Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga set an ambitious target for his country to become carbon neutral by 2050 in his first policy speech to parliament since taking office as premier last month. The 71-year-old, who was installed by Japan’s ruling party after long-term leader Shinzo Abe stepped down over health concerns, also prioritized reviving a pandemic-hit economy and pushed ahead with plans that include building an international financial center in Japan, he said in comments to start a special session of parliament.
“The Suga administration will seek to make a virtuous cycle between the economy and the environment,” Suga said in the speech. “We will put all possible efforts into creating a green society.” Suga’s climate plan was met with cheers from lawmakers, but he gave few details beyond saying the key would be innovations such as next-generation solar cells and carbon recycling. He added that nuclear power would remain an element of the energy mix, and the country’s policy on thermal power would be overhauled.
The climate change target for the world’s fifth-largest greenhouse gas emitter would bring it into line with other major economies, including the European Union and China.
Renewables must make half of Japan’s energy mix by 2030 and the country needs to limit its use of coal and gas to maintain an orderly transition consistent with keeping global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, according to an analysis by the Asia Investor Group on Climate Change, which looked at scenarios developed by central banks and financial regulators.
Suga added that he would press ahead with plans to encourage finance-industry professionals to come to Japan. He reiterated pledges to end the tradition of requiring official documents to be physically stamped, which has slowed Japan’s shift to digitization. He also called for allowing people to consult doctors online, as well as having fertility treatments covered under health insurance.