Japan joins US in urging China to speed up climate action

China is the world's top emitter and responsible for almost 30 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (BLOOMBERG) - Japan urged China to accelerate efforts to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, echoing calls from the US ahead of global climate talks later this month.

"It is important for the democratic countries to have one voice to encourage China to be more proactive," Japan's Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi told a BloombergNEF summit in New York on Wednesday (April 14).

China's "air pollution control could directly affect our people's health and society. We are calling on China to move ahead of its 2060 carbon neutral pledge, and to urgently peak-out their emissions."

The finger pointing is some of the harshest criticism of China's green policies since President Xi Jinping announced last year a goal to become net-zero by 2060, a decade later than the date pledged by other key economies, including Japan.

Mr Koizumi's comments come after US climate envoy John Kerry said in January Beijing's carbon neutrality pledge needed to be fleshed out.

Mr Kerry was scheduled to hold talks in Shanghai this week to discuss climate ambitions with Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua.

Leaders from 40 nations will attend a virtual climate summit organised by US President Joe Biden from April 22-23 aimed at galvanising efforts to commit to more ambitious greenhouse gas mitigation targets.

Japan Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga may announce a stricter 2030 emissions reduction target at the event, after last year pledging to become net-zero by 2050.

Japan will strengthen its 2030 commitments under the Paris Agreement, but the discussions are ongoing and the exact details haven't been decided, Mr Koizumi told the summit in a pre-recorded interview taped Monday.

"Our aim is to set an ambitious 2030 target," he said, adding that the revised goal will be announced "as soon as possible" before the COP26 climate talks scheduled to take place in November.

The nation is also considering the implementation of a carbon pricing regime, which could include an emissions trading system or a border tax, he said.

Mr Koizumi side-stepped a question about whether Japan aims to boost reliance on nuclear power. The nation's plan to release treated radioactive water from the wrecked Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant has been criticized by neighbors including China, South Korea and Taiwan.

China is the world's top emitter and responsible for almost 30 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

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