Declaration to Aim for a Sustainable Society Averting Climate Crisis
Today, we stand at a critical crossroads, with our actions likely to determine whether or not we can ward off the climate crisis and bring about a sustainable society to maintain the basis of human survival for generations to come.
Recently, abnormal weather events such as extremely high temperature, heavy rainfall, wildfires, and intensified tropical cyclones, have been occurring with alarming regularity all over the world. Additionally, glacier melting, increasing sea temperatures, and irreversible changes in the ecosystem are becoming apparent. Japan has also experienced scorching weather, described as “disaster-level,” localized downpours and massive typhoons, by which many regions around the country have been devastated by river flooding, landslides, and other major destruction. These would be expected to occur once in several decades, but rather have been ravaging Japan on an annual basis. The climate crisis is threatening the basis of human survival of both current and future generations, in which the right to life, health, residence, socio-economic life, etc. (Article 13, the Constitution of Japan; Article 26, ibid.; Article 13, the Basic Environment Act; Preamble, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; Article 3, ibid.; and Article 6, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights) are in jeopardy. The climate crisis has now grown into a human rights issue of extreme gravity, against which Japan and all countries constituting the international society must take viable and immediate action in order to avert the pressing danger posed by the climate crisis to their own people.
Rapid climate change has resulted from global warming caused by the increased emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases since the industrial revolution. The increase in the average global temperature is approximately proportional to total cumulative CO2 emissions. Hence, the common global goal is to reduce CO2 emissions almost by half by 2030 and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 to limit the average temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, thereby averting climate crisis and realizing a sustainable society (Article 2.1 of the Paris Agreement adopted in December 2015; Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report, Global Warming of 1.5 ºC, published in October 2018; and the SDG Goal 13 adopted in September 2015). In order to achieve this goal, there has been a pressing need to transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy.
In October 2020, the Japanese Government declared its commitment to achieve carbon neutrality/net-zero carbon by 2050. Furthermore, in April 2021, the Government advanced the reduction goal for greenhouse gas emissions by FY2030 from 26% to 46% below FY2013 levels and announced its aspirations to aim for a stretched target of 50%. However, not only does it still fail to satisfy the level scientifically required to limit the average temperature increase to 1.5°C, but the roadmap and strategies follow a conventional track and hence appear insufficient to reach the goal.
Given that energy-induced emissions account for approximately 93% of CO2 emissions associated with socio-economic activities in Japan, and roughly 40% of those come from thermal power generation, the very basis for Japan to aim at 2050 net-zero carbon should be to pursue 100% renewable energy usage by 2050, by means of phasing out coal-fired power plants by 2030, through a substantial reduction of energy consumption by enhancing energy efficiency, as well as dramatically increasing the use of renewable energy.
Meanwhile, some argue that nuclear power generation is a clean energy supply since it does not produce CO2 during the power generation process. However, across its entire life cycle, nuclear power generation emits a substantial amount of CO2 and, moreover, the radioactive waste generated by the operation are extremely hazardous and extraordinarily difficult to dispose of. Therefore, halting the construction of new nuclear power plants, in addition to decommissioning existing ones as soon as possible, should constitute the basis of Japan’s national climate plans.
Thus, taking account of the fundamental factors outlined above, we call on the Government to specify the following goal as a pathway to achieving net-zero carbon by 2050 and set it out clearly in the Act on Promotion of Global Warming Countermeasures, that is, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50% or more below 1990 levels (or 55% or more below 2013 levels) and increasing the percentage of renewable energy in the power mix to 50% or more, by 2030. Combined with this, the Government should, in collaboration with local governments and citizens, promote the energy switch towards net-zero carbon—while preventing overdevelopment caused by the construction of new renewable energy facilities—staying connected with communities. Additionally, we urge that the Government help support Just Transition so that workers, small and medium businesses, and communities will not be left behind in the transformation of industrial structure and take a leading role in the international community towards achieving sustainable socio-economic development in line with the Paris Agreement and other climate agreements.
The JFBA declares that it will continue to strive hard to reduce its energy consumption associated with its operational activities and make every effort to the best of its ability toward net-zero carbon by 2050, to avert climate crisis and realize a sustainable society.
We declare as above.
October 15, 2021
Japan Federation of Bar Associations