Japan’s government on Tuesday (March 15) released the draft of a new national climate plan including the goal of cutting emissions by 26 percent by 2030, compared to 2013 level. The target confirms the pledge Japan submitted in its INDC before the UNFCCC conference in Paris last December. The draft also includes a long term emission read more…
|Year||Total GHG Emissions Excluding LUCF ( MtCO2e)||Total GHG Emissions Excluding LUCF Per Capita ( tCO2e Per Capita)||Total GHG Emissions Excluding LUCF Per GDP ( tCO2e / Million $ GDP)|
The line chart shows the country’s carbon emissions by year, expressed in million tonnes of CO2 equivalent (MtCO2e) for emission totals, and in tonnes of CO2 equivalent (tCO2e) for per capita and per dollar of GDP values. It is based on data from CAIT platform provided by the World Resource Insititute, and updated regularly with the most recent data available.
By selecting or deselecting each item, you can compare or give prominence to particular emission trends.
|Energy Source||Production (ktoe)||TPES (ktoe)|
|tide, wave, ocean||0||0|
The double-doughnut chart shows the country’s energy production and TPES (Total Primary Energy Supply), expressed in thousand tonnes of oil equivalent (ktoe). It is built on data from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development/International Energy Agency libraries, and updated regularly with the most recent data available.
The INNER RING represents the country’s energy production from each energy source, corresponding to the quantities of fuels extracted or produced.
The OUTER RING shows the country’s total primary energy supply of each fuel. It represents the net quantities of fuels made available on the domestic market, after foreign transfers and trading. According to IEA’s definition, TPES equals production plus imports minus exports minus international bunkers plus or minus stock changes.
Differences between production and TPES are significant as they highlight the actual country’s behaviour in the matter of a given energy source. Production values and TPES values of the same energy source may vary widely, especially in case of the much-traded fossil fuels.
Energy data refers to year 2013.
Japan is a constitutional monarchy with a multi-party bicameral parliamentary representative democratic system. The Emperor, i.e. the monarch, is the head of state, while the Prime Minister is the head of government in the civil law system.
The parliament, the National Diet, is comprised of the House of Representatives and the House of Councillors. The House of Representatives has 480 members, which serve for four years. The election of the members is based to a large extent on a majority voting system but partly also on proportional representation. Following the advice of the Prime Minister, the Emperor can dissolve the House of Representatives, which happened the last time in 2014. Hence, the next election of the members of the House of Representatives is going to take place in 2018. In contrast, the members of the House of Councillors retain their seats for six years. Half of the 242 members are voted every three years, with the next elections scheduled for 2019.
The government consists of a cabinet with half of the members selected from the members of parliament. The Prime Minister is elected by the National Diet through a resolution. Both the members of parliament and the government can submit bills, which have to be approved by both houses. A conference committee may mediate between the two houses in case of disagreement. The current Prime Minister of Japan is Shinzo Abe (Liberal Democratic Party), who is in office since 2012.
In 2015, Japan submitted its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in advance of COP21 in Paris (see section on ‘International Policy’).
Fluorocarbon Emissions Reduction Act 2015
The law comprises a range of agreements on a sectoral basis to promote the substitution of gases with a low Global Warming Potential (GWP). For this purpose, a subsidy scheme is introduced to support industries to achieve the necessary shifts and to make the respective investments.
Law on Promotion of Global Warming Countermeasures 1998 (last revised in 2014)
Approved in 1998, the Act is the first climate-dedicated Japanese Law. It established the Council of Ministers for Global Environmental Conservation, which is chaired by the Prime Minister. In addition, it constitutes the legal framework to reduce the country’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, but it does not include any reduction targets. It solely requires the reporting of GHG emissions. As such, it defined the responsibilities of the national level for the implementation of necessary measures, including the commencement of initial steps towards an Emission Trading Scheme (ETS). Furthermore, it requires large emitters to develop individual Plans for Global Warming Countermeasures.
Beyond that, in order to achieve the 6 percent reduction target under the Kyoto Protocol, the law mandated that a plan for achieving Japan’s target should be set when the Kyoto Protocol would have come into effect. In 2005, when the Kyoto Protocol took effect, a Target Achievement Plan was indeed adopted. In its last version of 2008, the plan established a set of quantitative sectoral targets and specific measures for energy-related CO2, CO2 from non-energy sources, methane, N2O, HFCs and other gases. For attaining these targets, the Law promoted measures both with respect to energy related appliances and at the level of individual facilities and stakeholders. Additionally, it defined actions to lower the carbon intensity of the urban and regional level as well as of the public transportation infrastructure. Besides, the government will ensure that 3.9 percent of emission reductions are achieved through the removal of GHGs by sinks. Moreover, the use of the Kyoto mechanisms by both private and public sectors is promoted. The Plan also mandates cross-sectoral measures, including GHG accounting and reporting systems, the promotion of technology development and R&D, and activities aimed at developing environment-conscious businesses and public awareness. As Japan does not participate in the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, the plan expired in 2012. Nevertheless, the Act was amended to obligate the central and local governments to formulate their own Plans for Global Warming Countermeasures from 2013.
Full document available here; more information available on version of 2014 and on the Target Achievement Plan.
Fourth Basic Environment Plan 2012
The plan sets the target of reducing GHG emissions by 80 percent until 2050. A base year is not given.
Law Concerning the Promotion of Contracts Considering Reduction of Emissions of Greenhouse Gases and Others by the State and Other Entities (Environment Consideration Contract Law) 2007
The law requires governmental and other administrative agencies to promote green contracts in order to obtain products and/or services with the best environmental performance, and to develop respective policies. It relates particularly to the procurement of electricity, energy service companies, automobiles, ships, buildings and waste management. In addition, the agencies have to compile and publish a summary of concluded green contracts.
The government currently focuses on the introduction of competition into the power and gas sectors, as these markets have traditionally been dominated by regional power utilities. A three-stage plan has been set up for the liberalisation, with the first two steps already passed into law. In the first step, a system operator was established to oversee the management of power flows and to enable the neutral treatment of new generation to the transmission grids. In the second phase, the power sector was opened at the residential sector. The remaining third step will require utility companies to separate the operation of transmission and distribution grids from electricity generation and sales to ensure a neutral operation of the transmission grids. New market entrants, however, invest significantly in thermal coal, while the utility companies have invested mainly in natural gas facilities.
Law on Purchase of Renewable Energy Sourced Electricity by Electric Utilities 2011 (last revised in 2017)
The law requires electric utilities to purchase electricity generated from renewable energy sources. In addition, operators of renewable energy sources obtain a feed-in tariff for the energy generated. The costs are transferred to the consumers by means of surcharge for renewable energies. A committee was established as part of the law to determine the level of the feed-in tariff, which is provided for solar PV, wind power, hydropower, geothermal power and biomass. As a result, tariff rates for solar PV have been rapidly reduced after the annual reviews of the committee. The rates of the other renewable energy sources remain unchanged but lag significantly behind the share of solar PV. The latter represents 87.4 percent of registered installed capacity from non-residential projects and 5.2 percent from residential installations. However, concerns within the government regarding the affordability of energy of energy has led to the implementation of capacity tenders for non-residential solar PV in spring 2017. Moreover, only half of the approved renewable capacity has become operational. Biomass accounts for only 3.4 percent and wind power for solely 3 percent. The low share of wind power is caused by a lack of suitable locations in the proximity to the population centres of Tokyo and the Kansai regions and by the lack of capacity in regional interconnections due to the highly regionalised transmission lines in Japan. Moreover, the capital and operating costs for renewable energies are relatively high in Japan compared to other countries. Nevertheless, the share of renewable energies in the electricity generation has increased from 9.7 percent in 2010 to 14.6 percent in 2015.
Following the earthquake and tsunami in 2011, utilities severely impacted have been exempted from the obligations under the law.
Law Concerning the Rational Use of Energy 1979 (last revised in 2014)
Adopted in 1979 in the light of the two oil crisis, the Law promotes initiatives on energy conservation in order to decrease the total domestic energy demand. In its first version, the Law provided guidelines for energy conservation in the farming, building and machinery sectors. The subsequent seven amendments broadly widened the coverage of the Law. It covers the following provisions: (i) energy management in manufacturing, commercial and transportation sectors; (ii) energy efficiency standards for vehicles and appliances; and (iii) energy efficiency standards to improve energy conservation performance of the residential buildings.
According to an amendment of 2008, it provides a regulatory framework for both mandatory and voluntary energy audits in all energy sectors. In addition, to promote company-wide energy management systems, specified business companies and chain business operators shall appoint an energy management supervisor at the board member level and an energy management and planning leader to assist the supervisor. Companies also have to report the amount of fuel, heat and electricity the use. Additionally, they have to reduce energy consumption by one percent per year. In case of non-compliance, the designated businesses face substantial fines.
Already following an amendment of 1990, the Top Runner Programme was introduced. It certifies manufacturers with the best energy-saving performance and requires other companies to follow the example set based on a name-and-shame enforcement mechanism. It applies to machinery, equipment, building materials, lighting, engines and windows (some of which were included through later amendments, such as in 2014).
Full document available as pdf.
Law Concerning Special Measures for Promoting the Use of New Energy 1997 (last revised in 2014)
The law aims to accelerate the uptake of new energy sources and provides respective support. New energy sources include all generation types not using fossil fuels.
Law Concerning the Promotion of Development and Introduction of Oil Alternative Energy 1980 (last revised in 2014)
The law was adopted after the oil crises in the 1970s and relates to renewable energies. It established the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organisation (NEDO), which was reorganised in 2003 and renamed into Incorporated Administrative Agency.
Law for Energy Conservation and Recycling Support 2003 (last revised in 2013)
This Law entered into force in 2003 (it was then revised in October, 2003 and determined to be extended until March 31, 2013) with the objective to support business operators implementing voluntary projects to promote the rationalisation of the use of energy and natural resources. Business projects that meet specific requirements are supported through low‐interest loan and tax incentives for introducing energy efficient equipment and facilities.
Full document available as pdf.
Low Carbon City Promotion Act 2012
The law includes tax reductions for buildings with high-energy performance and established a recognition system for low-emitting buildings. In addition, certification criteria for low-carbon buildings ae defined, which relates for example to solar panels on roof, the thickness of insulation or multiple-layered glass on windows for heat insulation.
Beyond that, local governments are required by the law to develop a Low Carbon City Development Plan. These may for instance contain targets for the promotion of public transportation, conservation of green space, use of non-fossil fuel heating, promotion of energy efficiency of buildings and the promotion of low-carbon emitting cars. In the aftermath, the local governments have to evaluate the progress reached in the implementation of the plan. The national government also provides financial support for these undertakings.
Energy and Environment Council 2011
The council was tasked with the review of the national energy strategy and climate mitigation measures after the nuclear disaster in Fukushima in 2011. It presented three possible scenarios with shares of nuclear power of 0 percent, 15 percent and 20 to 25 percent. It recommended a lower dependency on nuclear power and to instead increase the share of renewable energies as part of its Innovative Strategy for Energy and Environment in 2012.
However, due to a change in government in late 2012, nuclear power has gained momentum again and is considered an important baseload power source contributing to the security and stability of supply. However, uncertainty about nuclear power remains as security concerns prevail in the population.
In 2016, 54 nuclear units remained shuttered. This has led to a sharp increase of emissions, as almost 12 GW new thermal capacity was added between July 2011 and August 2016. Although most parts were natural gas facilities, energy makes up 90 percent of national GHG emissions. As a result, coal-fired power plants are expected to play an important role for years to decades. Currently, there are plans for the construction of over 40 coal-fired power plants with a total capacity of 18 GW, but it is unlikely that all these will be built and some would also replace existing plants.
Fundamental Law on Energy Policy (Basic Act on Energy Policy) 2002
Adopted in June 2002, the Act set out the Japan’s fundamental and overall energy policy direction. It establishes three policy objectives to guide action in energy supply and demand: securing stable supply, environmental suitability and utilisation of market mechanisms for economic efficiency. The Act identifies the role and responsibility of central government, local public entities, business operators and citizens in formulating, implementing and endeavouring measures on energy supply and demand. For this purpose, long-term measures have to be defined and R&D needs indicated. The Act was amended already in 2003 to promote voluntary energy efficiency and conservation measures. Moreover, the Ministry of the Environment launched the campaigns COLL BIZ and WARM BIZ as part of the amendment, which encouraged people to dress in line with temperatures to reduce the need of air conditioning.
The Act mandates the government to formulate, on a regular basis, a national Basic Energy Plan aimed at promoting measures on energy supply and demand on a long-term, comprehensive and systematic basis. In October 2003, the Cabinet endorsed the first Basic Energy Plan, which has been subsequently revised in 2007. In 2010, the government fully updated the Basic Energy Plan in light of significant changes in the situation associated with natural resources and energy. The most recent version dates back to 2014, with the next Basic Energy Plan expected to be published in 2018.
The Basic Energy Plan of 2010 focuses on economic growth based on energy and structural reform of the energy industry. The Plan introduces five targets for 2030: (1) Double the energy self-sufficiency ratio in energy supply and the self-developed fossil fuel supply ratio, and as a result raise the energy independence ratio from currently 38 percent to about 70 percent; (2) Raise the zero-emission power source share from 34 percent in 2010 to about 70 percent in 2030; (3) Half CO2 emissions from the residential sector; (4) Maintain and enhance energy efficiency in the industrial sector at the highest level in the world; and (5) Maintain or obtain top-class shares of global markets for energy-related products and systems. To achieve the targets the following measures have been developed:
- Comprehensive efforts to secure resources and enhance supply stability;
- Establishment of an independent and environmental-friendly energy supply structure;
- Establishment of a low carbon energy demand structure;
- Building next-generation energy and social systems;
- Development and diffusion of innovative energy technologies;
- Enhancement of international cooperation on energy;
- Pursuit of structural reform of the energy industry;
- Facilitation of mutual understanding with the public and development of human resources;
- Division of roles among local governments, businesses and non-profit organisations and citizens’ commitment.
A summary of the Basic Energy Plan 2010 is available as pdf.
The Basic Energy Plan of 2014 added safety to the three principles contained in the original Law of 2002 in the light of the Fukushima Disaster. It concentrates on the diversification of energy sources and the establishment of a flexible and efficient energy demand structure. Despite the Fukushima disaster, it foresees a re-introduction of nuclear energy in the energy mix but with a lower share, enabled by the promotion of energy savings, renewable energy production and higher efficiency of thermal power plants. However, nuclear facilities have to pass inspections of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission first and meet certain regulatory standards for resumption. Moreover, the plan includes the following targets: (a) 100 percent efficient lighting equipment until 2030; (b) increase of the share of low-emission vehicles in sales to 50 to 70 percent by 2030, while improving traffic flows and introducing Intelligent Transportation Systems (initial strategy of 2010 aimed for only 15 to 20 percent battery electric and 20 to 30 percent plug-in hybrid vehicles among new car sales by 2030); (c) promotion of the storage of electricity through technological development and international standardisation; and (d) promotion of the installation of hydrogen fuelling stations for fuel cell vehicles.
Beyond that, the Basic Energy Plan of 2014 laid the basis for the Long-Term Energy Demand and Supply Outlook 2015, which sets further targets for the share of the different power sources in the electricity mix for 2030. This includes a share of 22 to 24 percent of renewables (7 percent solar PV, 1.7 percent wind power, 1 percent geothermal power, 8.8 to 9.2 hydropower and 3.7 to 4.6 percent biomass; slightly higher share than in the Basic Energy Plan 2010, which sought for a share of about 20 percent), 20 to 22 percent nuclear power (significantly lower than the 50 percent in the Basic Energy Plan 2010, but higher share than resulting from the restart of all current nuclear power plants), 26 percent coal, 27 percent natural gas and 3 percent oil.
Japan promotes Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) in coal-fired power plants, as zero-carbon plants are considered to be essential for reaching the 2050 target.
CARBON PRICING AND FINANCIAL INSTRUMENTS
Act Partially Amending the Law on Special Tax Measures (Tax Reform Act) 2012
The introduction of a carbon tax was included in the Tax Reform Act 2012. It builds upon a pre-existing tax regime on crude oil, gaseous hydrocarbons and coal imports. The revenues of the tax shall contribute to cut energy-related CO2 emissions.
Already in 2008, a carbon offset credit system was introduced in 2008.
Several subsidies of different ministries support investments into energy efficiency measures and renewable energy production. For instance, there is a subsidy on interest payments for “eco-loan” businesses to reduce CO2 emissions by more than 5 percent within 5 years. In addition, eco-point schemes for verified green products and services have been established, enabling consumers to attain exchangeable green points.
Japan encourages modal shifts and supports public transportation, improved flow of traffic and environmental-friendly use of vehicles. Regarding to the latter, Japan aims to increase the share of highly energy-efficient vehicles in car sales from 50 to 70 percent by 2030 as mentioned above. For this purpose, tax incentives are provided, although they do not target the reduction of CO2. As already described, the Japanese government also support fuel cell vehicles by expanding the hydrogen infrastructure.
In addition, there are two automobile schemes. First, a green tax provides tax breaks for low-polluting vehicles and increases tax rates for petroleum- and diesel-based vehicles since 2002. Second, an eco-car tax reduction has been introduced in 2009, which partly frees completely from the automobile weight tax and the automobile acquisition tax. New generation cars accounted for 23.3 percent of new car sales in 2013 compared to 3 percent in 2008.
The government also strives to make bulk purchases of electric vehicles to support their ripening process and to support respective R&D.
Japan is vulnerable to climate change due to sea level rise and coastal erosion; extreme events like typhoons, floods and droughts; and changing precipitation patterns influencing river flows and water use. However, most adaptation measures are taken at the subnational level (see below). In contrast, the focus is put on research on the national level in order to identify risks and vulnerabilities. For example, a report of the cross-sectoral Committee on Approaches to Climate Change Adaptation was published in 2010 and a comprehensive report on observations and the prediction of climate change in 2012.
Tokyo has launched a mandatory carbon reduction scheme, which includes an own emission trading scheme. Also the prefecture of Saitama has a voluntary ETS.
With respect to adaptation actions, the Kyoto prefecture has introduced an alert system for floods and heat strokes, the Nagano prefecture established a task force for climate adaptation and the Okinawa action plan includes water resource management provision adapted to climate change.
Profile of Japan on the website of the Grantham Institute on Climate Change and the Environment
Hughes, L. (2016): ‘Japan: Dominated by Fukushima and Tackling Hard Problems in Decarbonisation’. In: Roehrkasten, S., Thielges, S. and Quitzow, R. (eds.), ‘Sustainable Energy in the G20. Prospects for a Global Energy Transition’, IASS Study, Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies, Potsdam, Germany.
- Party to the UNFCCC (Annex I)
- Date of signature: 13 June 1992
- Date of acceptance: 28 May 1993
- Date of entry into force: 21 March 1994
- Party to the Kyoto Protocol
- Date of signature: 29 April 1998
- Date of ratification: 4 June 2002
- Date of entry into force: 16 Feb 2005
- Date of acceptance Doha Amendment: — (Japan announced that it will not participate in the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol)
- The Kyoto Protocol target of Japan for the first commitment period from 2008 until 2012 was to reduce GHG emissions by six percent below 1990 levels. Japan overachieved the target by reducing emissions by 8.4 percent compared to 1990.
- Signatory of the Copenhagen Accord
- Japan initially pledged an emission reduction target of 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 premised on the establishment of a fair and effective international framework, in which all major economies participate with ambitious targets.
- However, the initial pledge was cancelled and replaced by a new target of a 3.8 percent emission reduction below 2005 levels until 2020. This revised pledge assumes zero nuclear power and makes use of credits from the JCM (see below). It is even less ambitious than the pre-Copenhagen target of reducing emissions by 15 percent below 2005 levels. Japan is on track to reach the 2020 pledge.
- Party to the Paris Agreement
- Date of signature: 22 April 2016
- Date of acceptance: 8 November 2016
- Date of entry into force: 8 December 2016
- Post 2020 action
- Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) submitted in advance of COP21 (Paris) in 2015 (for more information on INDCs see here). Following the acceptance of the Paris Agreement in November 2016, the INDC has turned into Japan’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC).
- Main actions included in the NDC:
- Reduction of GHG emissions by 26 percent until 2030 below 2013 levels (corresponds to a reduction of 25.4 percent compared to 2005 or 18 percent below 1990 levels);
– 25 percent reduction of energy-related CO2 emissions;
– 6.7 percent reduction of non-energy-related CO2 emissions;
– 12.3 percent reduction of methane emissions;
– 6.1 percent reduction of nitrous oxide emissions;
– 25.1 percent reduction of fluorinated GHGs (HFCs, PFCs, SF6 and NF3);
– 2.6 percent reduction of total emissions through removals by LULUCF.
- Scope includes all sectors (energy including transportation and buildings, industry, agriculture, LULUCF and waste) and the whole territory. Methodologies and metrics are based on IPCC guidelines.
- Japan will develop another Plan for Global Warming Countermeasures for implementation.
- The JCM (see below) is not included in the emission reduction target, but respective emission reductions and removals acquired will be counter to achieve the NDC target.
- The NDC includes detailed information on the measures to be taken in the single sectors.
- Regarding to fairness and ambition, it is highlighted that Japan has among developed countries one of the lowest per capita emissions and carbon intensity and one of the highest energy efficiencies. Japan would face high abatement costs compared to other countries. The NDC is claimed to be in line with the reductions required by the IPCC for achieving the below 2°C target. However, the Climate Action Tracker rates the Japanese NDC clearly “inadequate”, indicating that it is not in line with a 2°C pathway. Japan uses also a problematic accounting method, as it excluded LULUCF emissions in the base year but includes them in the target year. Currently implemented measures do not put Japan on track to reach the 2030 target.
- Reduction of GHG emissions by 26 percent until 2030 below 2013 levels (corresponds to a reduction of 25.4 percent compared to 2005 or 18 percent below 1990 levels);
Multilateral and Bilateral Cooperation
- Japan is part of the dialogue forums G7/G8 and G20 as well as the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate (MEF).
- Japan participates also in the International Energy Agency (IEA), the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).
- Japan is a member of Mission Innovation and has thus pledged to double its expenditures on clean energy R&D until 2020.
- Japan has joined the NDC Partnership, which assists countries in achieving their national climate commitments and sustainable development targets.
- Japan also forms part of the Global Methane Initiative (GMI), which strives to reduce methane emissions, and the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC), which aims to reduce short-lived climate pollutants, such as black carbon, methane, tropospheric ozone and HFCs. Moreover, Japan is a member of the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition (CPLC) and the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum (CSLF).
- Japan used to participate in the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate (APP), which was established by the US but abandoned already five years later in 2011.
- The Japanese government supports private sector initiatives in standard-setting activities, for instance through the International Organization for Standardization.
- Japan is a significant provider of energy sector official development assistance (ODA), especially in the Asia-Pacific region. Between 2010 and 2014, it was even the largest bilateral donor of energy sector ODA in the world. Most of the energy-related development cooperation focuses on infrastructure development. The largest share of assistance flows into electricity transmission and distribution, followed by hydropower, coal- and gas-fired power generation. The Japanese government has also developed a programme to provide international support for the fossil fuel exploration and production activities of Japanese companies in order to diversify the geographic coverage of suppliers and to improve the competitiveness of Japanese resource companies.
- The Japanese government has set up the Joint Crediting Mechanism (JCM), which aims to achieve cost-efficient emission reductions outside of Japan while crediting these reductions to Japan as part of the scheme. In 2016, Japan had signed bilateral agreements with sixteen countries. However, there have been sustainability concerns regarding to the projects implemented under the JCM.
Japan is a member of the Umbrella Group in the multilateral climate negotiations.