Climate change took center stage at the Group of Seven (G7) summit held last month in Hiroshima, but Japan’s policies received minimal support, leaving the country seemingly “left behind” despite hosting the event.
In recent years, Japan’s presence in international climate change negotiations has been notably absent. This research article examines Japan’s challenges in gaining international recognition for its climate change strategies, focusing on the COP27 conference and the G7 Ministerial Meeting on Climate, Energy, and Environment.
Japan’s Struggle at COP27:
At the 27th Conference of the Parties (COP27) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, Japan faced unexpected challenges. The host country, Egypt, emphasized “loss and damage” caused by global warming as a crucial issue.
Developing countries, particularly those vulnerable to climate change impacts, have long sought a mechanism to support loss and damage, but progress has been hindered by disagreements between developed and developing nations.
Despite Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s announcement at COP26 in 2021 to provide additional assistance of up to $10 billion to developing countries over five years, the Japanese government opposed establishing a fund during COP27.
However, the negotiations did not go as Japan had anticipated. The flooding in Pakistan during that year’s talks drew attention to the importance of “loss and damage.
” Ultimately, the European Union, the United Kingdom, and other countries expressed support for a new fund, and Japan had to change its policy. The unanimous adoption of the COP27 agreement marked a significant shift.
Japan’s Isolation at G7 Summits:
Japan’s isolation on climate change issues was also evident at the G7 Ministerial Meeting on Climate, Energy, and Environment held in Sapporo as a prelude to the G7 Hiroshima Summit.
The inclusion of a timeline for the phase-out of coal-fired thermal power generation became a focal point. While European countries advocated for a clear timeline, Japan strongly opposed its inclusion, preventing its incorporation into the discussions.
Japan’s Strategy and International Perception:
The Japanese government is actively promoting “co-firing” methods, where hydrogen or ammonia is burned in thermal power plants alongside fossil fuels. However, the communiques from both the ministerial meeting and the summit only vaguely acknowledged the exploration of low-carbon and renewable hydrogen use in the power sector.
With challenges in restarting nuclear power plants and limited alternatives, Japan continues to rely on fossil fuels, including coal, raising concerns about its strategy gaining global approval.
Insights from Climate Integrate Think Tank:
Kimiko Hirata, executive director of the climate change-focused think tank Climate Integrate, expresses concerns about Japan’s strategy and lack of support from other countries.
She suggests that reducing fossil fuel dependency is a significant concern for nations, and Japan’s approach may not be viewed as a serious commitment to addressing climate change. This perception raises questions about Japan’s standing in international climate change negotiations.
Japan’s climate change policies have faced considerable challenges on the international stage. Despite hosting the G7 summit and announcing substantial financial assistance, Japan has struggled to gain support for its strategies.
The outcome of COP27 and the opposition to a coal phase-out timeline have further highlighted Japan’s isolation. As Japan continues to navigate the complex landscape of climate change, it faces the task of aligning its strategies with international expectations to address the pressing global issue effectively.
Keywords: Japan, climate change, G7 summit, COP27, international negotiations, developing countries, loss and damage,