On April 22, at Japan’s Global Warming Prevention Headquarters, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced a new goal of cutting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 46 percent by 2030 from 2013 levels, adding that the nation would continue to endeavor toward a 50-percent cut. On the same day, the prime minister publicly committed Japan to that goal at the Leaders Summit on Climate, convened by President Joe Biden of the United States.
The new goal is substantially more aggressive than the 26-percent cut in GHG emissions by 2030 from 2013 levels that had been decided on in 2015, and is another step toward the goal of “2050 carbon neutral”—that is, net-zero GHG emissions by 2050—announced by Prime Minister Suga last October.
In order to make good on its international pledge, Japan will have to pursue electrification on the demand side and decarbonization on the supply side. At the same time, building a sustainable society remains essential. In terms of the stability of supply, nuclear power is a reliable and quite robust, highly economical and environmentally sustainable power source. Combined with renewable energies, whose problem is their intermittency, nuclear power’s reliability will actually support efforts to further introduce renewable energies.
On April 22, prior to the aforementioned Leaders’ Summit on Climate, JAIF, the World Nuclear Association (WNA) and other nuclear industry organizations reaffirmed their position that nuclear power—which is available now, and which is the most effective low-carbon power source—is essential to achieving a carbon-neutral society, premised on continual efforts to further improve safety.
That affirmation is based on clear records of performance, wherein nuclear power has reliably provided low-carbon electricity at low cost over many years, with its supply unaffected by the weather and the like. Furthermore, it offers valuable applications for industry and in green hydrogen production, with employment and other socioeconomic benefits.
In Japan, existing nuclear power plants (NPPs) will be steadily restarted, with top priority placed on safety, and with their capacity factors methodically increased and their operating lifetimes prudently extended. Toward the construction of new reactors as well as replacements for older plants, the development of reactors with enhanced safety features will also have to be accelerated, along with innovations helpful in reducing emissions in sectors beyond power generation. We hope that current deliberations toward the issuance of the next Strategy Energy Plan will include a wide range of discussions in the future related to the uses of nuclear energy.
The nuclear industry will endeavor to perpetually improve safety and the safe operation of nuclear power. In cooperation with relevant organizations in Japan and abroad, the industry will work further to deepen understanding of the public concerning the value of nuclear energy and its contributions to a carbon-neutral society.