Abe government’s poor climate plan to cost lives, money and jobs

Intro

As the world’s largest economies meet in Germany, poised to signal their support for a shift away from fossil fuels, those countries still resisting the inevitable clean energy transition face missing out on the host of benefits awaiting them if they embrace a future powered by renewables. Most of the G7 nations, such as the US, as well as Germany, the UK and their European G7 peers, have already began this shift, boosting solutions like wind and solar power while taking initial steps away from dirty coal. But others threaten to hold back progress, ignoring the positive examples of their progressive peers. The Japanese government looks set to turn its back on its own renewable revolution and take its high-tech reputation back to the coal age, as it presents an embarrassingly weak draft climate action plan at the G7 summit. The proposal will see the country reduce emissions by 26 per cent by 2030, on 2013 levels – a mere 17 per cent on 1990 levels. Now, new analysis by the NewClimate Institute shows that this insufficient plan will see the Abe government risk having a healthy workforce, endangering 15,000 lives to dirty air pollution each year – lives that would be saved under more ambitious policies. Japan’s draft plan would also see the country miss out on 67,000 new jobs in the renewables sector by 2030, and forfeit US $25 billion in fossil fuel import savings, all of which the country desperately needs in its economic malaise. Japan is also risking being left out-innovated by its neighbours, like its East Asian rival China, and by its closest allies, like the US. The country faces increasing political isolation if it continues to linger in the past with other climate laggards, such as Russia, Australia and Canada, the later of which will be bringing its own inadequate climate plan to the G7 meeting. Midway through a crucial year on climate action, all these major emitters join a host of other countries in tabling climate commitments, with more to do so ahead of the UN climate talks in Paris this December. As government after government, most recently Peru and Morocco, come forward with their contribution to this global shift away from fossil fuels and towards a 100 per cent renewable energy future – a shift being demanded and driven by citizens, businesses, investors and scientists – those leaders failing to get on board will find themselves on the wrong side of history and face spending the rest of their careers cleaning up climate disaster after climate disaster.

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RT @CANIntl By switching from climate laggard to leader Japan could save lives & create jobs at home  http://bit.ly/CoBenefits #G7

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Key Points

  • Japan’s paltry climate action plan will create no jobs in the renewable energy sector, reduce the country’s fossil fuel import bill by only US $8 billion a year, and save just 1500 lives annually from deadly air pollution – according to new research by the NewClimate Institute. With a stronger plan in line with a pathway towards an economy powered by 100 per cent renewables by mid-century, the Abe government could create 67,000 new jobs by 2030, secure an additional US $25 billion in annual savings, and save another 15,000 lives each year as a result of cleaner air. It’s clear that the draft plan the Abe government is presenting at the G7 today is a huge missed opportunity to deliver a host of concrete benefits for a nation facing a serious economic malaise.
  • Japan’s weak climate plan will leave the country hooked to a dirty coal future, pushed into economic decline, increasingly isolated politically and out-innovated by its neighbours. Unveiled as part of a groundbreaking bilateral agreement with the US last year, China’s proposed climate action plan would create around 500,000 decent new jobs in the renewables sector by 2030 and save around 100,000 lives from deadly air pollution every year – impressive benefits that could be increased with even more action. Japan also falls behind fellow G7 nations the US and EU which have both presented climate pledges in recent months that signal their commitment to deliver irreversible momentum towards a fossil fuel phase out as the world transitions to a future powered by 100 per cent renewables.
  • Japan is not the only climate laggard at the G7, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper also has a weak climate plan in his suitcase. Canada’s proposed climate action plan will see the country cut carbon pollution by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, while failing to tackle the country’s most polluting industry, the tar sands oil extraction – responsible for 73 per cent of the its total emissions. Had the Canadian offer been in line with a 100 per cent renewables pathway, it could have secured an enormous 600 per cent increase in lives saved from deadly air pollution and 60 per cent more jobs in the renewable energy sector by 2030 than under the plan currently on the table.
  • 2015 marks the first time all countries table commitments to take climate action. Some of these national action plans will be stronger than others, but collectively they are a signal of intent to end the fossil fuel age, to embrace the dawning renewable energy era, and to build resilient communities free from poverty and inequality. With these plans, government leaders can speed up the ongoing transition of our economies from dirty energy to 100 per cent renewables – a shift more and more citizens, businesses, investors and scientists are demanding and driving. Alternatively, leaders can spend the rest of their careers cleaning up climate disaster after climate disaster.
  • Taken together, the national climate plans by Japan, Canada, EU, US and China show the huge benefits resulting from actions that have already been pledged. According to the NewClimate Institute assessment these five nations alone would, collectively, save 115,000 lives a year, put US $41 billion back in the coffers annually, and create 1 million jobs in the renewable energy sector by 2030. Had all these governments presented plans in line with 100 per cent renewables by 2050, the additional benefits of their collective actions would add up to 1.2 million lives saved per year, more than 2 million jobs created, and US $514 billion saved. This clearly shows that climate action is a no-brainer, and that taking more action faster makes sense and saves lives.

Background

New analysis released at the G7 summit currently taking place in Germany confirms that major economies stand to gain massive benefits as the result of their latest climate action pledges, with laggards Japan and Canada bucking the trend due to their weak plans. High on today’s agenda of the G7 meeting will be discussions on the long-term goal for a swift transition from dirty to clean energy and ways to mobilise the hundreds of billions needed in climate finance, while there is also a chance that leaders will discuss a near-term phase-out of dirty coal power. Under German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s leadership, the G7 are under pressure to send a strong signal back to the UN climate talks running parallel in Bonn that they are preparing for an international agreement which sets a goal in line with the phase-out of fossil fuel emissions by mid-century.

Coming midway through a critical year for climate action, this G7 meeting represents an important opportunity for the world’s largest economies to lead the way, and pressure is mounting on G7 governments to stop their investments in dirty infrastructure overseas and to decarbonise their own economies. With recent Oxfam analysis showing that G7 coal power stations emit two times the CO2 pollution of all of Africa, or 10 times as much as the world’s 48 least developed nations, there is a growing call for these countries, as the world’s richest nations, to send a clear signal that the writing is on the wall for fossil fuels.

Such a move would put further pressure on the laggards within the grouping: Canada and Japan, who continue to cling to dirty energy and punch well below their weight on climate ambition. Both these countries will today, present their inadequate climate action pledges ahead of the UN climate talks in Paris this December. Japan’s climate pledge (or Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) as it’s known in the UN negotiations) commits the country to a 26 per cent emissions reduction on 2013 levels by 2030, equating to a 17 per cent reduction on 1990 levels. World Resources Institute analysis suggests that the 26% emissions reduction goal by 2013 levels is not a comparable effort with the US and EU INDC targets, and recommends that Japan would need to increase its proposed INDC mitigation goal to at least a 28% reduction from 2005 levels by 2030 to achieve an average annual decarbonisation rate similar to that of the EU and US for the 2020-2030 time period.

The NewClimate Institute research released today shows just how much insufficient national action plans will cost laggard countries. A Japanese plan in line with a pathway to 100% renewable energy by 2050 would give the country a healthy workforce thanks to cleaner air, new jobs in a booming renewables sector, and huge savings resulting from avoided fossil fuel imports – three things that Japan desperately needs in its current economic malaise. But the Abe government’s draft offer is so insufficient that, by 2030, it will see Japan waste 67,000 potential jobs, forfeit US $25 billion annually, and fail to save 15,000 lives each year. Compared to the forecast impact of current policies Japan’s paltry offer will create zero additional jobs in the renewable energy sector, reduce the country’s fossil fuel import bill by only US $8 billion a year, and save just 1500 lives annually. That’s ten times less than the co-benefits resulting from the more ambitious action plan which civil society organizations are calling for.

As a result of its low ambition, Japan clearly loses out in comparison to its East Asian rival China. Following a groundbreaking bilateral agreement with the US last year, new research shows that China could now be on track to peak its greenhouse gas emissions by 2025, five years earlier than expected. Last year Japan’s neighbor unveiled a plan that publically committed the country to peak emissions by 2030. The deal would see the country create around 500,000 decent new jobs by 2030 and save around 100,000 lives from deadly air pollution every year. The NewClimate Institute report also shows that Japan’s G7 peers in Europe and America are – like China – set to secure more benefits from enhanced climate action, as they move faster in the ongoing transition from fossil fuels to renewable energies.

Japan’s fellow laggard at the table in Elmau, Canada, is also pitching a pathetic climate plan at the G7 this Monday. Canada’s proposed climate action plan will see the country cut carbon pollution by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030, while failing to tackle the country’s most polluting industry, the tar sands oil extraction – responsible for 73 per cent of the country’s total emissions. The benefits secured from this weak plan are minimal. If the country’s offer was in line with a 100 per cent renewables pathway by mid-century, however, it could have secured an enormous 600 per cent increase in lives saved, and 60 per cent more jobs in the renewables sector by 2030, compared to what it is likely to happen under the proposed plan.

2015 will be the first time all countries present national climate action commitments. Some of these plans will be stronger than others, but collectively they are a signal of intent to end the fossil fuel age, to embrace the dawning renewable energy era, and to build resilient communities free from poverty and inequality. The climate action plans by the five major economies assessed in the NewClimate Institute report – Japan, Canada, EU, US and China – will collectively save 115,000 lives a year, put US $41 billion back in the coffers annually, and create 1 million jobs in the renewable energy sector by 2030. If all these governments had presented plans in line with 100 per cent renewables by 2050, the additional benefits of their collective actions would add up to 1.2 million lives saved per year, more than 2 million jobs created, and US $514 billion saved.

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G7 and INDCs

The renewable energy transition

UNFCCC and the Paris agreement – the essentials

The Bonn climate talks

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Key Quotes

  • “We are calling on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to take this draft plan back to the drawing board and deliver a vision for the country that taps its renewable energy potential, creates decent jobs and saves the lives of Japanese people at risk from air pollution. The people want more action, businesses want more action – it’s high time the government tries to regain the country’s lost climate leadership.” – Kimiko Hirata, CAN Japan coordinator
  • “The consideration of the multiple benefits of climate action can significantly influence the ambition level of national governments when formulating their national plans as it links directly to the needs of the people.” – Niklas Höhne, NewClimate Institute
  • “Canada’s failure to take its climate protection responsibilities seriously will hurt Canadians in the long-run, as our economy remains over-reliant on dirty oil, as our air remains more polluted than it needs to be, and because sustainable jobs in the renewable energy sector were not created.” – Louise Comeau, Executive Director of Climate Action Network Canada
  • “Oxfam is deeply disappointed by Japan’s lack of ambition.  Setting a draft target of 26% emissions reduction below 2013 levels (18% below 1990 levels) by 2030 is woefully inadequate. Japan, as one of the most developed countries in the world, has not only high responsibility for causing climate change, but also a strong capacity to reduce emissions. Japan urgently needs to step up its ambition by committing to a target in the range of 40-50% reduction based on 1990 levels. As Oxfam has shown in its new report, G7 coal emissions are a major contributor to climate damages in developing countries. Therefore, Japan can increase its ambition by phasing out dirty coal and investing in renewable energy.  But with plans to build 52 new coal-fired power plants, Japan is heading in the wrong direction – putting them at odds with the rest of the G7.   If these coal plants are built, Japan will be doomed to an unsustainable fossil-fuelled future.” – Maiko Morishita, Oxfam Japan’s Policy Advisor

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  • MT @Oxfam #G7 coal plants emit 2x  fossil fuel CO2 of all of Africa & 10x as much as 48 least developed nations http://ow.ly/i/baK6y
  • MT @CANIntl Check out vid from @simonpegg http://bit.ly/1GkbE0G Time to leave coal in past, #G7 leaders, are you listening? #QuitCoal
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