Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced the new 2050 goal in November which was finalised last week revealing plans to boost renewable energy, phase out gasoline-powered cars and reduce battery costs as part of a bid to reach an ambitious 2050 carbon-neutral goal.
Japan, which is a signatory to the Paris climate deal, has been seen as reluctant to reduce its reliance on fossil fuel, despite its self-professed pride as a nation of energy-saving technologies. The country was the sixth-biggest contributor to global greenhouse emissions in 2017, according to the International Energy Agency.
The Government government laid out the first meeting that target will involve, including setting a provisional goal of generating more than half of the country’s electricity from renewable sources by 2050.
“The government’s actions on the environment reflect our belief that a significant change of mindset is required and that these are not constraints for growth, rather they are drivers of growth,” top government spokesman Katsunobu Kato told a regular briefing.
The world’s third largest economy still relies heavily on coal and liquefied natural gas, with most of its nuclear reactors offline since the 2011 Fukushima disaster.
Japan expects demand for electricity to surge 30 to 50 percent by 2050, under the plans to boost renewables, officials are placing a new focus on offshore wind generation, with the goal of producing up to 45 gigawatts within the coming decades.
Japan also wants to use nuclear and thermal power plants with carbon capture technology to cover 30-40 percent of the nation’s electricity demand.
Ammonia and hydrogen technologies are expected to fulfil about 10 percent of the nation’s power needs.
By the mid-2030s, the government also wants to end the sale of new passenger vehicles that are solely powered by gasoline.
Japan plans to replace them with hybrids, electric cars and cars fitted with fuel-cell engines, while bringing down the cost of batteries for those vehicles.
But while officials say the new plan is ambitious, some critics believe it falls short.
Japan should aim for renewable energy to cover 50-60 percent of national electricity needs by 2030, rather than wait until 2050, the think tank said.