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Japan Moves Closer To A Climate Pledge

Japanese media reported on Thursday that the nation is studying a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by around 20% by 2030. Sources differ about the base year (2005 or 2013). From this informally rendered pledge—the first time Japan has mentioned a number—the nation may proceed to file an Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) with the United Nations for December’s climate talks.

Fukushima I reactors, early 2011 (

Its target date for the official INDC pledge is reported to be the Group of Seven meeting in Germany in early June. The nation missed the first deadline for INDC submission (March 31), but the G7 timing should still give UNFCCC number-crunchers ample time to factor in this important nation’s calculations.

As we noted earlier this week, Japan emits more climate-changing carbon dioxide than all but four other countries in the world. It had loftier decarbonizing aims several years ago, until the 2011 Fukushima disaster, which caused the government to shutter its array of nuclear plants and rely instead on utilities burning coal and gas to generate electric power. Last year (to March 2014), Japan’s emissions climbed to a record high.

Japan is now shooting for a 2030 power generation mix that would cut fossil fuel-fired generation to around 55% (vs. 90% now). The anticipated Japan climate pledge is a fairly hefty cut, although critics have called for more. The Nikkei reports that even without other emission-reducing measures, such a new ratio would cut emissions by around 15% from 2013 levels.

US and EU official INDCs are both more ambitious, although they also have room for growth. The United States envisions cutting emissions by as much as 28% from 2005, and the European Union proposes at least a 40% cut from 1990 levels.

The Paris UN summit at the end of the year will attempt to limit average temperature rises to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above the pre-industrial era just a few centuries ago. While experts considering the proposed and declared international contributions to date do not see this goal as immediately attainable, the consensus appears to be that the effort should result in a viable feedback loop. Further rounds of INDCs can then approach the target more closely. And of course, it’s a moving target as the UN and member nations accumulate more data to sharpen the forecasts.

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Written By

covers environmental, health, renewable and conventional energy, and climate change news. She's currently on the climate beat for Important Media, having attended last year's COP20 in Lima Peru. Sandy has also worked for groundbreaking environmental consultants and a Fortune 100 health care firm. She writes for several weblogs and attributes her modest success to an "indelible habit of poking around to satisfy my own curiosity."


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