Japan’s greenhouse gas emissions hit a new record low in 2020

National emissions totaled 1.15 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in fiscal 2020, down 5.1% from fiscal 2019, the seventh consecutive annual decline and the highest.

The ministry cited lower energy consumption caused by manufacturers’ reduced production and reduced passenger and freight movement amid the pandemic as factors helping to reduce emissions.

Emissions in the year ended March 2021 marked an 18.4% decline from FY2013 levels, which Japan uses as the base year for pursuing a 46% reduction by FY2030, mainly due to improved energy conservation and the resumption of nuclear power plant operation.

Japan previously targeted a 26% reduction from base year.

By gas type, CO2 emissions fell 5.8% year-on-year to 1.04 billion tons, while emissions of fluorocarbons, which replace ozone-depleting substances as refrigerants, continued to increase by 4%.

The industry sector reduced energy-related CO2 emissions by 8.1% compared to the previous year, while these emissions fell by 10.2% in the transport sector.

Household emissions rose 4.5%, likely because people were spending more time at home during the pandemic.

The power conversion sector, which includes power plants and oil refineries, reduced its emissions by 8.4% year-on-year as emissions related to the manufacture of petroleum products decreased.

Greenhouse gas removal from forests and other “carbon sink” measures has continued its downward trend in recent times, totaling 44.5 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent for FY2020. The government plans to replace old trees that are less efficient absorb carbon with younger trees.

When gases absorbed by forests and other measurements of carbon sinks are subtracted from total emissions, the figure rises to 1.11 billion tonnes of CO2-equivalent, down 21.5% from fiscal 2013 levels, the ministry said.

Along with the United States and other countries, Japan is aiming to become carbon neutral by 2050 – an economy with zero net greenhouse gas emissions.

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