Author: Jun Arima, Former Consulting Fellow, RIETI / Professor, Graduate School of Public Policy, The University of Tokyo
As the 1.5°C Special Report gains prominent attention, there will likely be calls at home and abroad to raise the 26% reduction target for 2030 when Japan submits its NDC in 2020. However, with the restarting of nuclear power plants not proceeding smoothly, if the prospect of achieving the 26% target diminishes, it would be unreasonable to raise the goal even more. Japan’s marginal abatement cost and its energy costs in the industrial sector are the highest among the world’s major countries. Setting unrealistic goals in response to international rallying cries would have a significant negative impact on Japan’s industrial competitiveness and economy. The 1.5°C Special Report will receive great coverage in the 2023 global stocktake and will likely have an effect during the revision of goals in 2025. While the author is skeptical of achievement of a 1.5°C to 2°C goal, if the world is to ultimately aim for decarbonization, then the path for Japan to take is to set serious goals and strategies in terms of developing and spreading technologies that could enable decarbonization in forms that are compatible with the economy, rather than gung-ho figures based on vain rallying cries and unsupported by feasibility studies. When it negotiated the formulation of the Kyoto Protocol, Japan took the lead in proposing the bottom-up framework of “pledge and review.” As it turned out, the international framework ended up taking the grand detour of a top-down Kyoto Protocol, but it ultimately arrived at a Paris Agreement that has at its core bottom-up pledge and review. When it comes to the course for decarbonization, Japan should present to the world an approach focused on technologies instead of numerical targets and time-tables.
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