Japan’s yet-to-be-confirmed INDC would join Russia’s in being rated as “inadequate” as a contribution to a global climate goal, according to analysis by Climate Action Tracker released on Wednesday.
The Tracker, which provides scientific analysis from four European research groups, awarded the lowest of its four INDC rankings to Japan’s emission reduction target of 20% below 2013 levels by 2030.
“Japan would be making even less effort than any of the governments who have so far submitted their planned climate action for a Paris agreement except Russia, which the CAT has also rated ‘inadequate’”, the analysts said in an emailed statement.
Earlier this month, Japanese media reported that the government was considering that goal, although one outlet said the baseline could be set at the more stringent 2005 level.
“Japan has stated it is committed to moving to a low carbon economy, but with this kind of target, coupled with its planned expansion of base load from coal, Japan is likely to recarbonise its economy – the reverse of what it needs, and, if followed by others, would lead to 3-4C warming this century,” said Bill Hare of Climate Analytics, one of the four contributors to the Tracker research.
Japan has scaled back its emission cut goals since the 2011 Fukushima nuclear incident forced the country to burn far more fossil fuels for energy while it reassesses its use of atomic power.
But the analysts said the downgrading of targets “cannot be fully explained by removing nuclear energy from the energy mix. Instead, it represents a decreased level of ambition”, with almost half of the downgrading not due to Fukushima-related policymaking.
Unlike many bigger emitters, Japan’s INDC is likely to make use of international offset credits via its Joint Crediting Mechanism to help meet the goal.
It said foreign carbon credits representing 20 million tonnes of CO2e could be used to 2020, allowing Japan to emit 1.6% more, citing research from Japan’s IGES think tank published last November.
Environmental groups have been critical of Japan’s refusal to rule out the possibility of earning carbon credits for subsidizing the installation of coal-fired power plants, which they say locks countries in to high carbon energy use for decades when cleaner sources are available.
Japan argues that supplying its efficient coal technology would result in lower-than-projected emissions for many poorer nations that would host the projects.
NAME AND SHAME
The UN climate negotiations have so far put no restrictions on INDCs, boosting the importance of third party analysis to evaluate the effectiveness of national contributions.
The Tracker has rated the EU, US, Norway, Switzerland and Mexico’s INDCs all as “medium” – but even that rating means others would have to take comparably more effort in order to hold warming below the globally-agreed limit of 2C.
India, the world’s third biggest emitter, has yet to publish an INDC but The Hindu newspaper reported Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday criticising developed nations that have scolded the country’s lack of progress. He said India “will set the agenda” for the December Paris climate talks, where a new global pact is due to be signed.
By Ben Garside -firstname.lastname@example.org