The new Japanese Prime Minister, Yoshihide Suga, is set to declare Japan’s intention to become carbon-neutral by 2050 in his first general policy address to the Diet, Japan’s parliament. This is a large shift from the country’s previous goal of achieving 80% emissions reduction by 2050 and carbon neutrality at some undecided date in the latter half of the century (Nikkei, Fortune). Pressure for the decision came from both the international community and the local population. The decision continues a larger global trend, following the recent promises of more rapid emissions cuts from both China and the European Union (Independent), as well as a trend among Japanese municipalities, over 160 of which locally adopted a 2050 carbon-neutrality pledge in the last year (Reuters).

For Japan to achieve this goal, it will need to make significant changes to its energy mix. Japan is currently the world’s fifth-largest emitter of carbon dioxide, and relies heavily on the use of coal. Critics point out that despite its new emissions pledge, the country still has plans to roll out new coal-fired power plants (Reuters). According to its current energy plan, by 2030, Japan anticipates that 56% of its energy will be generated by coal and liquefied natural gas. Policymakers have announced intentions to adjust this plan to better align with the country’s new goals, with changes anticipated in the summer of 2021 (Nikkei).