Japan, South Korea and China commit to carbon neutrality by 2050 and 2060

·2 min read

Zero carbon emissions by 2050. That's the goal announced by South Korean president Sud Moon Jae-in this week. China and Japan had taken a similar decision a few days and weeks back. Big news, considering that these three Asian countries are among the biggest polluters in the world.

In his speech to parliament on Wednesday, the South Korean president pledged to turn to renewable energies and reduce reliance on fossil fuels. To do so, a "Green New Deal" launched last July aims at investing billions of dollars to develop green infrastructures (comprising 30,000 low-carbon-energy buildings), clean energies and electric vehicles (1.13 million cars).

Two days earlier, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga also announced the country's goal of ending reliance on greenhouse gases and achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. For the sixth-biggest greenhouse-gas-emitting country as per the International Energy Agency, the main challenge will be to cut its dependence on coal.

"Responding to climate change is no longer a constraint on economic growth," said Suga on October 26, adding that "innovation is the key." He also mentioned his willingness to encourage the growth of renewable sources and nuclear energy to carry out this transition.

On September 22, Chinese President Xi Jinping surprised the United Nations General Assembly when he announced his goal for China to become carbon-neutral by 2060. The stakes are very high for the biggest carbon-emitting country worldwide, and the ambitious aim implies a lesser reliance on fossil fuels, given that coal plants represent close to 65% of China's current electrical production.

A recent analysis published in  Nature underlines that "China must first begin to generate most of its electricity from zero-emission sources, and then expand the use of this clean power wherever possible, for example switching from petrol-fuelled cars to electric ones. It will also need technologies that can capture CO2 released from burning fossil fuels or biomass and store it underground."