US climate envoy in Japan to discuss efforts to reduce emissions


Tokyo (AFP) – US climate envoy John Kerry was in Tokyo on Tuesday to discuss efforts to combat climate change with top Japanese officials ahead of a United Nations conference in November.

Kerry is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi, as well as Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshi Kageyama.

Kerry arrived in Japan on Monday and will travel Tuesday night to China for further climate talks — his second trip to the country under President Joe Biden’s administration.

In his talks with Koizumi, Kerry is expected to discuss decarbonization efforts and cooperation between the two countries ahead of the United Nations climate conference, known as COP26, to be held in Glasgow in the first half of November.

During a visit to London last month, Kerry called on world leaders to work together and accelerate actions needed to limit temperature rise to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. He urged China to join the United States in urgently reducing carbon emissions.

China is the world’s largest carbon emitter, followed by the United States. Japan is fifth.

Several countries have pledged to eliminate net carbon emissions by 2050. Japan has promised to seek to reduce its emissions by 46% from 2012 levels, up from the previous target of 26%, to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. China has also set a goal to reach carbon neutrality by 2060.

Suga said Japan will try to push the reduction to 50% to bring it into line with the European Union.

In order to achieve this goal, the Japanese Ministry of Environment is seeking a significant increase in the budget to promote renewable energy and decarbonization programs. The Ministry of Trade and Industry plans to use large subsidies to promote electric vehicles and wind power generation, according to a draft budget proposal for 2022.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry, in its draft Basic Energy Plan released in July, said the share of renewables should be raised to 36-38% of energy supply in 2030 from the current target of 22-24%. The plan maintains the current target of 20-22% for nuclear power as officials remain hesitant about what to do with the nuclear industry, which has struggled since the Fukushima disaster in 2011. The plan reduces fossil fuel use from 56% to 41%.

During his visit to China from Sept. 1-3, Kerry is expected to meet his Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua.

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