Tokyo Unveils Zero-Emissions Strategy

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Tokyo’s governor, Yuriko Koike has unveiled a plan to make one of the world’s largest cities and contributors to greenhouse gas emissions carbon-neutral- the zero-emission Tokyo strategy.

The governor said Tokyo would implement a transition to renewable energy and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, which would be underpinned by heightened disaster awareness, a reduction in the rate of single-use plastic, as well as a transition to renewable energy, are all mentioned in the plan.

According to the Japan Times, “it also reveals the governor’s ambitious vision of what Tokyo might look like in 30 years: zero-emissions cars, buses, boats and planes; building made of recycled wood and topped with solar panels; power plants on the city’s perimeter tapping biomass, geothermal, hydrogen, hydroelectric, solar and wind energy; grocery stores with zero food waste and no single-use plastics; and ‘smart’ homes with artificial intelligence to minimize energy consumption.”

The 2020 budget plan released last week from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government has slated ¥74.6-billion (just under $690-million USD) for the implementation of the plan.

“Around the world, we can see that cities are taking the lead in the fight against climate change… whether it’s at the national level or through municipalities, we need to take action or it will be too late,” she said. “As a huge contributor to carbon dioxide emissions, Tokyo needs to do what it can to set the standard for the rest of the world,” Koike concluded.

By 2030, Tokyo hopes to install an additional 1,000 charging stations for electric vehicles, with enough solar power to provide 1.3-GWh to the grid; enough to power around one-million households. Single-use plastic is in the sights of the government, too, hoping to crack down by 25%, and food wastage by 50%.

The Times is reporting that “the money will be distributed to the individual plans announced alongside the broader Tokyo Climate Change Adaptation Policy, Plastic Strategy and ZEV (Zero Emission Vehicle) Promotion Strategy- which outline additional steps the city will take to eliminate carbon dioxide emissions, marine plastic waste, food waste and fluorocarbon emissions.”

Riyanti Djalante, an academic program officer at the United Nations University Institute of the Advanced Study of Sustainability told the Times that energy and urban infrastructure were key areas of the plan.

“This is about the need for rapid and transformational action,” she said, “what’s important now is how fast and in which sectors [the city] wants to implement this zero-emission strategy,” Djalante said.

The report also quotes Takayoshi Yokoyama, a member of a Tokyo-based environmental group who said that “for a city like that to make a commitment like this is very significant.”

He was, however, critical of the plan’s lack of flexibility in the wake of worsening conditions, stating that “it’s necessary for residents of Tokyo to change their lifestyles, and this plan doesn’t make that message clear enough… It’s important for cities to take action but it’s meaningless if it doesn’t lead to a response on a national level; for the plan to succeed, Japan must take action,” he concluded.

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