UN chief encouraged by Japan’s 2050 net zero pledge

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The capital of Japan, Tokyo, requires huge amounts of electricity to power the city. [Unsplash/Jezael Melgoza]

NEW YORK, USA – UN secretary- general António Guterres has welcomed Japan’s announcement on Monday that it would reduce carbon emissions to zero, by 2050, as part of the global effort to slow the worldwide rise in temperatures, and prevent the most damaging effects of human-made climate change.

“The secretary-general is very encouraged by Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide’s announcement of Japan’s commitment to get to net zero emissions  by 2050, which is a very significant positive development, and hereby expresses his appreciation for prime minister Suga’s leadership,” said the statement released by UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric.

Japan’s announcement comes two weeks after a call by Mr. Guterres for UN Member States to commit to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 and to submit more ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) – in which each country spells out what it will do to reduce national emissions, and adapt to the impacts of climate change.

The statement said Guterres now looked forward to Japan, the world’s third largest economy, announcing concrete policy measures, along with an ambitiously revised NDC, in time for the 26th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP26), due to be held in Glasgow in November 2021.

“The secretary-general has no doubt that Japan has all the necessary technological, financial and engineering tools to get to net zero emissions by 2050. He is confident that Japan will also assist developing countries to reach that same objective, including through technological assistance and its public and private financing for renewable energy”, the statement said.

Japan’s pledge comes a month after China’s President Xi Jinping told the UN General Assembly that China aimed to have carbon emissions peak before 2030 and to reach carbon neutrality by 2060.

President Xi promised to revise China’s NDCs accordingly and called on all countries to meet their commitments under the 2015 Paris Agreement, which sought to keep a global temperature rise this century well below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The European Union has also pledged to be carbon neutral by 2050.

The United States has not made a similar commitment, and after signalling in 2017 that it would withdraw from the Paris Agreement, it could formally leave the pact as soon as the day after next week’s presidential election.

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