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A clear path to net-zero by 2050

Business urges Japan to chart a clear path to net-zero emissions by 2050

Ahead of the G20 Summit in June 2019, the We Mean Business coalition – representing nearly 900 global companies committed to bold climate action through its partners’ initiatives – call on Japan as host of the summit to develop an ambitious long-term strategy that charts a clear path to net-zero domestic greenhouse gas emissions in Japan by 2050 at the very latest.


To His Excellency Shinzo Abe, the Prime Minister of Japan:

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change clearly underlines the urgency of limiting global warming to 1.5°C to protect human health and economic growth, and makes clear that achieving that trajectory requires reaching net-zero global emissions by 2050. Achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, in turn, will require transformation on an unprecedented scale, including a full transition to zero-carbon power, transport, and built environment systems, and a land system that can feed the planet while protecting vital ecosystems.

To demonstrate leadership in the global economy and as host of the G20 Summit in June 2019, we call on Japan to develop an ambitious long-term strategy that charts a clear path to net-zero domestic greenhouse gas emissions in Japan by 2050 at the very latest.

The global business community has high expectations for Japan. Many global businesses have operations in Japan and see it as an important market. Companies also remain firmly committed to the Paris Agreement, recognizing that achieving its goals is essential for prosperous business growth and the wellbeing of their employees and customers. Therefore, businesses are looking to Japan for long-term, clear policies on climate and energy that give them the clarity and confidence they need to invest in technologies and markets for the zero-carbon future.

Around the world, momentum is building as governments, including the European Union, move to set strategies to achieve net-zero emission by 2050 or earlier. To remain competitive in the global marketplace and attract investment, Japan must seize the opportunity to be a global leader in the economy of the future and demonstrate its ambition with clear policies that can unlock maximum business impact and innovation.

Already, 100 Japanese businesses, representing sales of nearly 71 trillion yen and electricity consumption of 36 TWh, have called on the government to demonstrate its global leadership by including a goal of net zero domestic emissions by 2050 in its long-term strategy.

Through the We Mean Business coalition Take Action Platform, nearly 900 global companies across all sectors, headquartered in over 45 countries and with combined market capitalization equal to 20% of global GDP, have made over 1,400 commitments to bold climate action. In Japan, many companies have set emission reduction targets in line with the Paris Agreement. For example, FUJIFILM commits to reducing absolute greenhouse (GHG) gas emissions 30% by 2030 across its entire value chain, and Sony has a long-term vision of reducing its environmental footprint to zero by 2050.

While many businesses recognize the strategic imperative to act on climate, not all are acting, and those who are could go further faster. Often they are slowed down or disincentivized by a lack of clear, long-term signals and supporting policies from governments that are necessary to drive the transition at the required pace and scale. This is why creating an ambition loop–where bold government policies and private sector leadership reinforce each other–is essential to accelerate the transition to a prosperous, zero-carbon future.

An ambitious long-term strategy that informs shorter term government policies is essential to inform business decisions, encourage the investment and creativity that will help build a zero emissions and climate-resilient future, and avoid stranded assets and mis-investments.

To give businesses the clarity needed to drive investment, we urge the government of Japan to become a global leader in the decarbonized economy by including in its long-term strategy:

  • A clear vision with the principal goal of achieving domestic net-zero emissions in Japan by 2050;
  • Quantitative and time-bound decarbonization targets for all sectors, especially currently high-emitting sectors such as energy and heavy industry;
  • Priority for accelerating the deployment of renewable energy as a power source, including time-bound renewable energy targets, improvements to electricity grid infrastructure for renewable energy, and a deadline to completely phase out coal;
  • Carbon pricing that stimulates market demand for cost-effective investment in zero-carbon products and services, which enables businesses to aggressively invest in research and development;
  • Support for green finance and climate-resilient corporate investment in climate action through policy and regulatory reforms, such as revisions of infrastructure and market regulations, and assistance for high-risk investments;
  • A process to implement the strategy in an open, transparent and consultative way, in partnership with all stakeholders including businesses, civil society, employers, investors, trade unions, sub-national, regional and local authorities;
  • A regular revision cycle–with the first revision within 5 years–to capture innovation, reflect the latest scientific, economic and technological developments and system transformations, and ensure progress is on track to achieve the agreed goal;
  • A mechanism to ensure short- and medium-term policies are aligned with the long-term strategy’s trajectory, including a commitment to update Japan’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) in 2020 in line with achieving net-zero domestic emissions by 2050 at the latest.

Businesses in Japan and around the world stand ready to work with the government of Japan to collectively increase climate action, helping to drive the system-wide change needed to achieve the Paris Agreement’s goals.

Sincerely, The We Mean Business coalition

We Mean Business (WMB) is a coalition of nonprofit organizations working with the world’s most influential businesses to take action on climate change. Together we catalyze business leadership to drive policy ambition and accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy.
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