2020: Raising the ambition for climate | EU-Japan Webinar, October 2020 | Summary

EU-Japan Raising Climate Ambition Webinar

2020 is a key year for climate action: 5 years after the Paris Agreement was adopted, countries have to update their 2030 greenhouse gas reduction targets. These targets, or nationally determined contributions (NDCs), are at the heart of the Paris Agreement: they embody efforts made by each country to achieve the global goals for the climate.

In March, Japan released its updated NDC. The Ministry of the Environment now focuses on implementing policies and supporting initiatives that will allow an increased ambition, such as the engagement of cities and prefectures. In September, the European commission presented its plan to raise the EU’s reduction target by 2030 to at least 55%, instead of the current 40%. This level of ambition for the next decade will put the EU on a balanced pathway to becoming the first climate-neutral continent by 2050.

In this webinar, the European Commission and the Ministry of the Environment of Japan introduced the latest developments in their ambitions and efforts for climate action. Two businesses, L’Oréal from Europe and Ricoh from Japan, illustrated how the Paris Agreement and the NDCs set by governments are key towards shifting business activities in sectors such as cosmetics and electronics.

Agenda

  • Opening remarks | Haize Siemers, Deputy Head of Delegation of the European Union to Japan
  • Introduction | Kae Takase, Senior Manager, CDP Japan
  • The 2030 climate target plan – Stepping up Europe’s 2030 climate ambition | Tom van Ierland, Head of Unit, DG CLIMA, European Commission
  • Recent trends in climate change policies in Japan | Yoshiteru Sakaguchi, Director, Ministry of the Environment of Japan
  • An example in the industry in Europe: Climate change and L’Oréal’s commitment for 2030 | Jérôme Bruhat, President, CEO and Representative Director, L’Oréal Japan
  • An example in the industry in Japan: The efforts of Ricoh for a zero-carbon society | Hiromitsu Hatano, Executive Specialist, Ricoh
  • Q&A
  • Closing remarks | Kae Takase, Senior Manager, CDP Japan

Summary

Opening the webinar, Haize Siemers, deputy head of Delegation of the European Union to Japan, set the tone: “Climate change is a defining issue of our time”. Recognizing the need for targets set by governments and actions from the private sector and the consumers, he insisted on the importance that all stakeholders work together. He also highlighted the importance of 2020 for the implementation of the Paris Agreement: “The European commission has just introduced its proposal to increase the EU emission reduction target to 2030 to 55%. At the same time, Japan is working on a further update of its climate commitment.” 

Stepping up Europe’s 2030 climate ambition

Tom Van Ierland, Head of Unit at DG CLIMA, European Commission, confirmed that we are facing challenging times. The current targets and policies of the EU would only achieve a 60% reduction of emissions by 2050, while the ambition of Europe is to become the first climate neutral continent. Stronger and clearer signals are therefore urgently needed, to place the European economy and society on the pathway to net zero emission. This requires an intermediary target of -55% in 2030, instead of the current -40%.

These efforts for climate will also bring social and economic benefits to the EU, as well as environmental co-benefits such as lowering air pollution.

The transition will require contributions from all sectors. In the energy sector, the EU will bring the share of renewable electricity to at least 65% by 2030, and the share of renewable heating and cooling to 40%. Renovation rate of buildings will have to be doubled. In car transport, the CO2 emissions per kilometer and passenger could be halved in 2030 (compared to 2021); in heavy-duty transport, clean hydrogen will be crucial.

Additional investments will be needed: as compared to the current 40% reduction target, going further to 55% will lead to an additional 90 billion euros of investment per year between 2021 and 2030. In order to provide legal certainty and predictability for businesses and drive the investments in the right direction, the legislative framework needs to be updated. The new 55% target first needs to be formally adopted; then by June 2021, the EU Emission Trading System, the directives on land use and forestry, the renewable energy and energy efficiency policy, the standards for vehicle efficiency will all need to be updated. A new carbon border adjustment mechanism is also proposed.

Even if the EU clearly raises its ambition for climate, the global crisis will not be solved by the EU alone: all countries, and notably G20 members, need to come forward with more ambitious actions as well.

Recent trends in Japanese public policies for climate

Mr. Yoshiteru Sakaguchi, Director of the General Affairs Division, Global Environment Bureau, Ministry of the Environment (MOE), introduced the recent trends in climate change public policies in Japan.

Japan submitted its updated NDC in March this year, confirming its target of achieving a 26% reduction in 2030 (as compared to 2013) and 80% by 2050 (note: about one week after this webinar, Prime Minister Suga announced that Japan would now aim at reaching carbon neutrality by 2050). Based on this, the government has started reviewing the Global Warming Countermeasures Plan, and plan to finalize this review before COP26 (November 2021). This review will include considerations about the impact of COVID-19, in line with the initiative launch by minister of the environment Shinjiro Koizumi in September to establish the online platform Redesign 2020 on sustainable and resilient recovery.

Japan also aims at raising its reduction targets by 2030 under the Paris Agreement, in line with the revision of the energy mix currently under preparation. Illustrating the importance of energy in Japan’s climate efforts, in July this year, minister of economy, trade and industry Hiroshi Kajiyama announced a plan to fade out inefficient coal-fired power plants and the project to make renewables a main source of power production in Japan. The review of the national energy plan started in October.

Japan also announced this summer its new guidelines regarding public support to the export of coal-fried power generation: Japan will now support the formulation of policies for decarbonization in partner countries – such as the long-term strategies towards 2050 required under the Paris Agreement. Support to new coal-fired projects will only be granted in countries that have no other choice that using this source of energy, and in which a transition strategy towards future decarbonization is established.

L’Oréal: towards -50% greenhouse gases emission on all products by 2030

Jérôme Bruhat, President, CEO & Representative Director of L’Oréal Japan, gave an illustration of what the private sector can do for climate. As the world leader in cosmetics, “everything L’Oréal does can have a meaningful impact.”

L’Oréal is already recognized for its commitment by external organizations; it is for example the only business worldwide to have achieved a triple A score from CDP for 4 years in a row. The French company also has set Science-based targets, to transform its activities in respect of planetary boundaries, including climate but also land-use, water and biodiversity. According to Jérôme Bruhat, “a company can only be successful if it achieves economic, social and environmental successes.”

In 2020, the French company announced “L’Oréal for the Future”, a new strategy aiming at accelerating and strengthening its efforts for sustainability over the next 10 years, in line with the schedule of the Paris Agreement. By 2030, L’Oréal will reduce by 50% all greenhouse gases emission generated by each finished product, worldwide.

L’Oréal also works on consumer engagement, through information about the environmental impact of its products.

In Japan, L’Oréal is working to identify what contribution it could bring to support the achievement of the SDGs of the 2030 Agenda, in particular the most challenging for Japan, including SDG5 (Gender Equality) and SDG13 (Climate Action). By 2022, L’Oréal Japan facilities will be entirely carbon neutral. L’Oréal Japan also develops partnerships through its various brands, such as Kiehl’s working with Terracycle to collect and recycle plastic containers.

Ricoh: new ambitions set in March 2020 to align with global climate action

Hiromitsu Hatano, Executive Specialist and ESG Promotion Group Leader, Sustainability Promotion Headquarters from Ricoh, introduced the efforts of Ricoh to realize a decarbonized society.

In 2015 already, Ricoh was selected by the UN and France as an official partner for COP 21, providing a secure and sustainable printing infrastructure for the event, and joining its voice to those of other businesses calling for the adoption of the Paris Agreement.

Two years later, in 2017, inspired by the direction set by the Paris Agreement, Ricoh decided to accelerate its transformation, adopting a new declaration for environmental quality, and establishing targets for 2030 and 2050. The same year, Ricoh became the first Japanese company to join RE100, committing to using 100% renewable electricity by 2050. The company then also joined or supported initiatives such as the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), the Japan Climate Action Summit declaration or the Business for Inclusive Growth initiative (B4IG).

In March 2020, Ricoh decided to review its environmental targets and raise its ambition, in light of global trends in climate action showing that an acceleration was both needed and possible. The greenhouse gases reduction target for 2030, initially set to 30%, was for example upgraded to 63% (in comparison to 2015), in order to place the company on the pathway to reaching its ultimate 2050 target of zero net emission across the entire value chain. In the meantime, the company joined other international initiatives for climate action in business, such as the 1.5°C Target certification from SBT and the “Business Ambition for 1.5°C” campaign.

These targets are translated into actions taken in factories and facilities of Ricoh worldwide. Ricoh’s factory in France is for example powered by 100% renewable electricity. Other efforts include energy saving measures, switching vehicle fleets to electric vehicles, the purchase of green certificates and the utilization of sustainability-linked loans. Ricoh also works towards identifying additional solutions that could be implemented to allow further reduction of CO2 emissions by 2030.

Discussion with the attendees

All panelists could discuss with the participants, replying to their questions on various topics such as the positive economic impact of climate change countermeasures in Europe and Japan, the carbon border adjustment mechanism proposed in the EU, the role of consumers, etc.

Panelists could also exchange about the expectations from the private sector towards the public sector, and vice-versa. For Jérome Bruhat from L’Oréal, governments should work on raising public awareness, to invite consumers and businesses to change their behavior; the introduction this Summer of the new rules on single-use plastic bags in Japan is for example a good way to educate Japanese consumers about the environmental impact of their daily consumption habits. For Hiromitsu Hatano from Ricoh, Japan should establish a clear vision about renewable energy, and could find inspiration in the future target of 65% renewable electricity by 2030 in the EU. 

Highlighting that “Climate change will not stop if we don’t stop adding CO2 to the atmosphere”, Tom Van Ierland from DG CLIMA insisted on the importance that private and public stakeholders have a proactive discussion about decarbonization, with interactions ongoing between the regulatory framework provided by governments, and the investment choices made by private companies. In Europe, heavy industries themselves said in 2018 that they were confident that they could decarbonize, but needed public support and signals to create the demand for decarbonized products.

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This event is organized with the financial support of the European Union’s Partnership Instrument. The opinions expressed are the sole responsibility of the organizer and speakers, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.

Organized by

EU Japan Centre for Industrial Cooperation

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