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Japan Risks Reputation on Climate

Japanese media reports that a Parliamentary sub-committee in Tokyo will recommend a national climate pollution target of just 11% below 1990 levels in 2030.

This is a backward shift from its pre-Fukushima target of 25% below 1990 levels in 2020 and comes on the back of regulatory shifts in Japan that are making it harder for renewable energy to spread.

Observers of international climate policy from across the world warned that adopting such a target posed grave risks to the climate system, as well as to the potential outcome of December’s Paris Climate Summit.

Mohamed Adow, Senior Climate Adviser at Christian Aid said:

“Japan used to be a global leader on climate and development issues but the news today casts a dark shadow on that legacy. If the pollution targets being discussed by the Japanese parliament are adopted it will set Japan as a pariah on climate action. The weak targets on the table threaten the lives, development and security of people across the world.”

Meena Raman, Negotiations Expert at the Malaysian based Third World Network said:

“The weak pollution target that the Japanese Parliament is considering could but shrink again when they use accounting tricks and offset credits. Japan’s final submission to the Paris agreement will be judged on the size of the target but also on its commitment to finance and technology transfer, and we’re yet to hear anything on those important issues. When rich industrialised countries put such puny proposals on the table where is the inspiration for developing countries to follow? ”

Mithika Mwenda, General Secretary of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance said:

“Japan has come under criticism for funding global warming-causing coal power plants with its ‘climate’ finance and now it wants to add insult to injury by proposing incredibly weak pollution targets. Japan as a rich industrialised country has a great deal of historical responsibility for climate change and if it wants to be a global leader it must meet that responsibility. Targets that are not responsive to the realities of science and justice will make a mockery of the Japanese government’s international credentials.”

Asad Rehman, Head of International Climate at Friends of the Earth EWNI in the UK said:

“This latest announcement suggests that it’s the interests of big polluting corporations that are driving the Japanese Government’s agenda and they’re driving it over a climate cliff, risking the safety and welfare of millions. Trying to scrap its solar energy support schemes to make way for big dirty nuclear power, whilst also cutting its pollution targets is a warning sign not only to the Japanese people but to all global citizens that governments are failing to act in our interests.”

Janet Redman, Director of the Climate Policy Program at the Institute for Policy Studies in the United States said:

“Japan used to lead on climate, so it’s particularly discouraging to see such low ambition on their part. Unfortunately, it only confirms the U.S.’s ability to railroad global climate negotiations. Japan is fiddling with its accounting rules and reference years to hide how weak and dangerous its targets are – a trick well practiced by the Obama administration. If you add these proposed Japanese targets to those from the US, EU, and Russia you see the world is dangerously off track to tackle the climate crisis.”

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