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EGEB: Japan will pledge to reach net zero by 2050

  • Japan, in a major shift, is expected to announce a net zero target of 2050.
  • In a “world-first investment,” HSBC and Queensland buy “Reef Credits” to protect the Great Barrier Reef.
  • Environment America has released its 2020 report that says green energy will see dramatic growth.
  • Arcadia Power is committed to making clean energy work for the planet and Americans’ bank accounts — all without changing your utility company. Sign up to receive your $20 Amazon Gift Card — *ad.

Japan: net zero by 2050

Japan is expected to commit to reaching net zero by 2050, according to Nikkei Asia. Prime minister Yoshihide Suga is expected to make the announcement in his first speech to parliament next week after taking office last month. This is a major shift in the Japanese government’s position and brings the country in line with the European Union and the Paris Agreement. 

The old target, which lacked a clear timeline, was to reduce emissions by 80% by 2050 and reach “virtually zero as early as possible in the second half of this century.” A major revision will be required to meet the new target.

Japan is currently under fire by environmental groups, and the fisheries industry, China, and South Korea are worried, following reports of Japan’s plan to release treated radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster into the sea. Suga said today in a press conference about the controversy, according to Japan Today:

‘We cannot postpone the issue forever. We would like to make a decision responsibly as soon as possible. There has been no decision on when or how to deal with the water.’

The government plans to deepen discussions on the matter and work on measures to prevent reputational damage linked to radiation, he added.

Reef credits

Queensland in Australia and banking giant HSBC (HSBA.L) said today that they will make a “world-first investment” to protect the UNESCO World Heritage site the Great Barrier Reef, which is under threat from extreme bleaching. Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has lost more than half its coral in the last three decades due to warming seas and poor water quality, as Electrek reported last week.

Reuters reports:

In an attempt to safeguard the reef, HSBC and the Queensland government said they would buy ‘Reef Credits,’ a tradable unit that quantifies and values the work undertaken to improve water quality flowing onto the reef.

Similar to the carbon offset market which incentivizes the reduction of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, the scheme pays landholders for improved water quality.

The investment required to meet water quality targets for the Great Barrier Reef is estimated at A$4 billion ($2.8 billion), according to James Schultz, the CEO of GreenCollar, which developed the Reef Credit Scheme in partnership with landholders, the Queensland government and natural resource management organizations.

Neither Queensland nor HSBC have yet said how much they will be investing. The market could be worth more than 6 million Reef Credits by 2030.

Renewables on the rise

Environment America Research & Policy Center has released its 2020 report, “Renewables on the Rise 2020,” which has some interesting statistics about the rise of green energy in the US in the last decade.

Here are some highlights, and you can read the report in full by clicking the link above:

  • Solar energy: In 2019, the United States generated over 30 times more solar power than it did in 2010, enough to power 16 million average American homes.
  • Wind energy: In 2019, the US generated more than triple the amount of wind power it did in 2010, enough to power over 33 million homes.
  • Energy efficiency: In 2018, energy efficiency programs across the US saved more than one and a half times as much electricity as they did in 2010, enough to power nearly 2.5 million homes.
  • Electric vehicles: There were nearly 330,000 electric vehicles sold in the US in 2019, up from virtually none just a decade earlier.
  • Energy storage: The US saw a 20-fold increase in utility-scale battery storage from 2010 to 2019.

According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the US has the technical potential to meet its current electricity needs more than 75 times over with solar energy and more than 10 times over with wind energy.

The US really has no excuse. It must commit to 100% green energy, and has the technology and capability of doing so.

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Avatar for Michelle Lewis Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis is a writer and editor on Electrek and an editor on DroneDJ, 9to5Mac, and 9to5Google. She lives in White River Junction, Vermont. She has previously worked for Fast Company, the Guardian, News Deeply, Time, and others. Message Michelle on Twitter or at Check out her personal blog.