Japan will achieve zero carbon emissions by 2050, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga declared Monday, outlining an ambitious agenda as the country struggles to balance economic and pandemic concerns.
The policy speech at the outset of the parliamentary session was Suga’s first since he took office on Sept. 16 after his boss Shinzo Abe resigned over health reasons. It reflects Suga’s pragmatic approach to getting things done, though it’s unclear he will have the political heft needed to overcome vested interests in weaning this resource-scarce nation from its reliance on imports of oil and gas.
Suga just returned from a trip last week to Vietnam and Indonesia, where he pushed ahead with Abe’s efforts to build closer ties and promote a regional vision for countering growing Chinese influence.
Now out of Abe’s shadow, back home Suga has been pumping out consumer-friendly policies. He has earned a reputation as a cost cutter.
He said he intends to make a sustainable economy a pillar of his growth strategy and “put maximum effort into achieving a green society.” That includes achieving a carbon-free society by 2050.
The European Union and Britain have already set similar targets for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, and China recently announced it would become carbon-free by 2060. Japan previously targeted a 80% reduction by 2050.
Suga portrayed the need to shift away from fossil fuels to counter climate change as an opportunity rather than a burden.