The Ministry of the Environment’s ambitions in Japan are detailed here, with a special focus on climate change impacts and greenhouse gases policy
The Ministry of the Environment, Government of Japan is responsible for global environmental conservation, nature conservation and pollution control and was created in 2001 from the sub-cabinet level Environmental Agency that was set up during 1971(1). This article will look at examples of the Ministry’s work around the topic of climate, including discussion of Japan’s National Greenhouse Gas Emission, GOSAT (Greenhouse gases Observing SATellite), as well as climate change impacts.
Japan’s greenhouse gas emissions
The Ministry, along with the National Institute for Environmental Studies released Japan’s National Greenhouse Gas Emissions (preliminary figures) for the fiscal year (FY) 2017 in November 2018. These figures tell us that the total emissions in 2017 were found to be 1,294 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents (Mt CO2 eq.), a 1% decrease compared to those of FY2016; an 8.2% decrease compared to FY2013 and a 6.2% decrease compared to FY2005. The Ministry’s website offers their own thoughts on these figures.
“The main factor for the lower emissions as compared to FY2016 is the decrease in energy-related CO2 emissions due to the increase in the share of non-fossil fuels within the domestic energy supply brought by the wider adoption of renewable energy such as solar and wind power and the resumption of nuclear power plant operation.
“This is a decrease of 1.0% (12 Mt CO2 eq.) when compared to the FY2016 emissions (1,307 Mt CO2 eq.), mainly because of the decrease in energy-related CO2 emissions due to the increase in the share of non-fossil fuels within the domestic energy supply brought by the wider adoption of renewable energy such as solar and wind power and the resumption of nuclear power plant operation, despite the increase in hydrofluorocarbon emissions from refrigerants that substitute for ozone-depleting substances.
“This is also a decrease of 8.2% (115 Mt CO2 eq.) when compared to the FY2013 emissions (1,409 Mt CO2 eq.), mainly because of the decrease in energy-related CO2 emissions due to the increase in the share of non-fossil fuels within the domestic energy supply brought by the wider adoption of renewable energy such as solar and wind power and the resumption of nuclear power plant operation, and the decrease in energy consumption, despite the increase in hydrofluorocarbon emissions.”
We also discovered that there has been a decrease of 6.2% (86 Mt CO2 eq.) in comparison with to the 2005 emissions (1,380 Mt CO2 eq.), primarily due to the decrease in energy-related CO2 emissions as a result of the decrease in energy consumption, even though there has been an increase in hydrofluorocarbon emissions. (2)
Staying on the subject of climate, we also learn that GOSAT (Greenhouse gases Observing SATellite) is the world’s first satellite designed specifically for monitoring greenhouse gases from space. This is indeed an exciting project and we know that GOSAT reveals details on the global distribution of methane (CH4) concentrations and carbon dioxide (CO2), as well as on where and how much greenhouse gases are emitted or absorbed. This was something highlighted in December 2018 by the Ministry of the Environment Government of Japan, as they detail below in their own words.
“Global atmospheric concentrations of CO2 and CH4 in all layers of the atmosphere from the ground surface to the top of the atmosphere rise yearly with seasonal oscillation.
“These results are contributing to climate science and useful for climate change-related policies.”
In addition, our attention is drawn to GOSAT-2, a successor of GOSAT, launched in October 2018 with tremendous success. Using this satellite, the Ministry of the Environment Government of Japan intends to observe whole-atmosphere CO2 and CH4 concentrations from space continuously. This is an activity that is carried out with high accuracy and can: “Estimate anthropogenic emissions from a large city and largescale emission source, thereby contributing to further enhancing transparency and GHG emission reductions.”
GOSAT and GOSAT-2 projects are promoted by the Ministry of the Environment Government of Japan, along with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, and the National Institute for Environmental Studies. (3)
Climate change impacts
Finally, in recent news from January 2019 we discover that when it comes to the manifestation of climate change impacts across the world, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s 1.5ºC special report in October 2018 describes the future of global warming: “Global warming is likely to reach 1.5ºC between 2030 and 2052 if it continues to increase at the current rate”, they said. This is indeed a challenge and the Ministry’s website notes that to realise a decarbonising society, the extension of conventional efforts plus new innovation are very necessary. They believe that such innovations are now considered to be a source of growth.
“Under such situations, the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) has proceeded with technical demonstration projects of CCUS (Carbon dioxide Capture, Utilization and Storage) which can greatly reduce CO2 from large scale emission sources to the atmosphere.” (4)
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