US climate envoy in Japan to discuss effort to cut emissions

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FILE – In this July 23, 2021, file photo, U.S. climate envoy John Kerry gestures during a photo opportunity with Italian Minister for Ecological Transition Roberto Cingolani, at Palazzo Reale in Naples, Italy. Kerry was in Tokyo on Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021 to discuss efforts to fight climate change with top Japanese officials ahead of a United Nations conference in November. (AP Photo/Salvatore Laporta, File)

TOKYO (AP) — U.S. climate envoy John Kerry was in Tokyo on Tuesday to discuss efforts to fight climate change with top Japanese officials ahead of a United Nations conference in November.

Kerry was scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi, as well as Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshi Kajiyama.

Kerry arrived in Japan on Monday and will fly out on Tuesday evening to China for more climate talks — his second trip to the country under President Joe Biden’s administration.

In his talks with Koizumi, Kerry was expected to discuss decarbonization efforts and cooperation between the two countries ahead of the U.N. climate conference, known as COP26, to be held in Glasgow in the first half of November.

During a visit to London last month, Kerry called on global leaders to work together and accelerate actions needed to curb rising temperatures to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels. He urged China to join the U.S. in urgently cutting carbon emissions.

China is the world’s top carbon emitter, followed by the United States. Japan is fifth.

Many countries have pledged to eliminate net carbon emissions by 2050. Japan has promised to strive to reduce its emissions by 46% from 2012 levels, up from an earlier target of 26%, to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. China has also set a goal to reach carbon neutrality by 2060.

Suga has said Japan will try to push the reduction as high as 50% to be in line with the European Union.

In order to achieve that target, Japan’s Environment Ministry is seeking a significant budget increase to promote renewable energy and decarbonizing programs. The Trade and Industry Ministry plans to use large subsidies to promote electric vehicles and wind power generation, according to a draft budget proposal for 2022.

The Trade and Industry Ministry, in its draft basic energy plan released in July, said the share of renewables should be raised to 36-38% of the power supply in 2030 from the current target of 22-24%. The plan maintains the current 20-22% target for nuclear energy as officials remain undecided over what to do with the nuclear industry that has struggled since the 2011 Fukushima disaster. The plan cuts the use of fossil fuel from 56% to 41%.

During his Sept. 1-3 China visit, Kerry is expected to meet with his Chinese counterpart, Xie Zhenhua.

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