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Japan pledges extra $10 billion to bridge climate financing gap at COP26

02 November 2021 Max Tingyao Lin

Japan will commit another $10 billion to decarbonizing low- and middle-income countries on top of its previous pledges, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said in his first trip abroad since winning the job.

The world's fifth-largest GHG emitter had pledged $60 billion from its public and private sectors in overseas climate financing during the G7 meeting in June.

Speaking during the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow 2 November, Kishida said the additional funds were aimed at helping rich nations fulfill their financing promises to developing countries.

In 2009, developed countries said they would deliver $100 billion in climate funds per year to emerging economies to help deal with climate change. The pledge was reaffirmed in the 2015 Paris Agreement.

But the amount of support reached just $79.6 billion in 2019 and is only expected to cross the $100-billion threshold in 2023, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The broken promise is widely seen as one of the main roadblocks to a climate deal in Glasgow.

"To take the lead in filling this financial gap today, I am pleased to announce our additional contribution," said Kishida, whose party just won the parliamentary election over the weekend. "Japan will call on other developed countries to join us."

All the $70 billion will be distributed in the 2021 through 2025 period. Japan will deploy some of the fund to an "innovative financial facility for climate" in partnership with the Asian Development Bank and others, Kishida said, without elaborating.

Adaptation

Separately, Kishida doubled Japan's contribution to adaptation funds to $14.8 billion to mitigate climate disaster impacts. He added that another $240 million will be routed to forestry conservation.

"No one must be left behind as we confront the issue of climate change," Kishida said.

Moreover, Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) will utilize its ¥2-trillion ($17.6-billion) Green Innovation Fund to develop zero-emission vehicles powered by electricity, hydrogen, or synthetic fuels.

"While distributing the fruits of these innovations across Asia, Japan will spearhead global [decarbonization] efforts," Kishida added. "Japan will press onward to undertake efforts towards zero emissions in Asia."

Kishida reaffirmed Japan's goal of cutting nationwide GHG emissions by 46% from 2013 levels before 2030 and reaching carbon neutrality by 2050.

In a bid to fulfill the interim target, Tokyo wants renewable power to account for 36-38% of Japan's electricity mix in 2030 versus 18% as of 31 March 2020.

"To bring about a decarbonized society, Japan will introduce renewable energy as much as possible and lead the way in the clean energy transition, with a particular focus on Asia," Kishida said.

In May, the METI announced the $10-billion Asia Energy Transition Initiative to support LNG, renewable power, energy efficiency, and other decarbonization projects in Asian countries, with a particular focus on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Ammonia, hydrogen aims

As part of the initiative, Kishida said Japan will spend $100 million on converting fossil fuel-fired power plants to using ammonia and hydrogen.

Japan is aiming to reduce coal's share in its power mix to 19% in 2030 from 31% in 2020. But the country has been reluctant to set a phase-out date for coal power.

To limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the UN said in March OECD nations—including Japan—need to shut their coal plants by 2030 and non-OECD countries by 2040.

But getting to that point will be challenging, as evidenced by the announcement after last weekend's G20 meeting that the leaders of the world's largest economies had agreed not to fund new coal-fired power, but could not agree on or announce a target for closing existing coal-fired facilities.

Japan's Foreign Press Secretary Yoshida Tomoyuki said the country was committed to reducing coal-fired power generation "as much as possible" but admitted a phaseout might not happen in the next decade.

"We have quite scarce natural resources in Japan… Japan has to utilize multiple energy resources," Tomoyuk said in a press conference 2 November.

The county will instead develop abatement technologies for coal plants based on hydrogen, ammonia, and carbon capture and storage, he said.

JERA, Japan's largest power generator, began to inject a small amount of ammonia at its 4.1-GW coal-fired power plant in Hekinan last month.

The company hopes to replace 20% of coal requirements with ammonia in the joint demonstration project with IHI, which is scheduled to conclude in March 2025.

Posted 02 November 2021 by Max Tingyao Lin, Principal Journalist, Climate and Sustainability

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