Late last year, Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga unveiled a major policy shift, pledging to cut greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero and build a carbon-neutral society by 2050.
As Saudi Arabia launches its own ambitious environmental initiatives, experts say the two countries have much to learn from each other as both the Kingdom and Japan remain heavily reliant on fossil fuels.
Japan is the world’s fifth-biggest emitter of carbon dioxide, making timely steps towards renewable energy use and cuts on fossil fuel imports imperative for the country to meet the Paris Agreement’s goals.
Japan presented its “Green Growth Strategy in line with Carbon Neutrality in 2050” in December, setting out an industrial policy that meets economic growth with environmental protection. It will energize research and development in solar cells and battery technology, promote carbon recycling, and expand the digitalization of the economy. Infrastructure projects, including vast offshore wind farms, are already in the pipeline.
Japan’s carbon-cutting plans could be as trailblazing for East Asia as Saudi Arabia’s environmental initiatives, unveiled by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on March 27. The Saudi Green Initiative calls for regional cooperation to tackle environmental challenges and includes plans to generate 50% of the Kingdom’s electricity using renewables by 2030, as to eliminate more than 130 million tons of carbon emissions. Not less important, the Middle East Green Initiative sets out to reduce carbon emissions by 60% across the region.
There are also plans to plant 10 billion trees in the Kingdom and restore 40 million hectares of degraded land, while across the wider region there are plans for 50 billion trees and the restoration of 200 million hectares of degraded land.
These initiatives are designed to work in tandem with Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia’s commitment to diversifying its economy away from oil, empowering its citizenry and opening up to global visitors and investors.