Welcome to the Earth.Org Global Sustainability Index, where Earth.Org examines the policies and actions regarding the environment of every nation on earth. Combining the most respected global indexes on pollution, climate change, policy, energy, oceans, biodiversity we have produced an overall Global Index, which will be updated annually. The is the Global Sustainability Index scorecard for Japan.
Japan has shown little signs of concern for the climate crisis. The country is planning to add up to 13 GW of coal power, meaning that coal may continue to supply a third of Japan’s electricity in 2030 without a further push for renewable energy. Japan is also a major funder of overseas coal-fired power plants, however an increasing number of financial companies and major trade corporations in the private sector have pledged to at least partially divest from coal.
The country submitted a long-term climate strategy in June 2019 which showed its weak ambitions- it aims to reach net-zero emissions ‘as early as possible during the second half of the 21st century’, far from the action needed to mitigate global warming. It also makes no mention of phasing out coal power and instead proposes technologies that are not yet commercially available- carbon capture and storage and utilisation.
However, the transport sector shows promise, with plans for near 100% of electric vehicles on the road by 2050. Energy standards for automobiles and buildings have also been raised and the country is showing an increased support for off-shore wind power.
- Japan’s targets for the Paris Agreement includes an emissions reduction target of 26% below 2013 levels in 2030.
- On November 15, 2013, Japan announced a new pledge to reduce emissions by 3.8% below 2005 levels by 2020, which will result in an emissions level of 1 327 MtCO2e/yr in 2020, a 4% increase above 1990 levels.
- Japan is still planning the construction of new coal plants; it is projected that coal could continue to supply a third of Japan’s electricity in 2030 without a further push for renewables. Moreover, Japan is a major funder of coal-fired power plants overseas. However, since May 2015, an increasing number of financial companies and major trade corporations have announced at least a partial divestment from coal power.
- The country has weak ambitions- it aims to reach net-zero emissions ‘as early as possible during the second half of the 21st century’, far from the kind of action needed to achieve the Paris Agreement’s long-term temperature goal, and does not commit to a complete phase-out of coal-fired power generation. It instead emphasizes carbon capture and storage technologies, which are not currently commercially available.
You might also like: Global Emissions (2016)
Biodiversity, Policy: Sachs, J., Schmidt-Traub, G., Kroll, C., Lafortune, G., Fuller, G. (2019): Sustainable Development Report 2019. New York: Bertelsmann Stiftung and Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN).
Oceans: Halpern, Benjamin S., et al. “An index to assess the health and benefits of the global ocean.” Nature 488.7413 (2012): 615-620.
Pollution: Wendling, Z. A., Emerson, J. W., Esty, D. C., Levy, M. A., de Sherbinin, A., et al. (2018). 2018 Environmental Performance Index. New Haven, CT: Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy. https://epi.yale.edu/
Climate Change: Climate Change Performance Index; Jan Burck, Ursula Hagen, Niklas Höhne, Leonardo Nascimento, Christoph Bals, ISBN 978-3-943704-75-4, 2019
Energy: Enerdata –World Energy Statistics – Yearbook.