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EDITORIAL | Net Zero Emissions Possible in Asia with Japan's Technology

Japan is developing mixed combustion technology to help the Asia Zero Emission Community show that there are various paths to net zero.



Commemorative photo of participants in the first AZEC summit meeting in Tokyo. The meeting was held at the Prime Minister's Office on December 18, 2023. (Pool photo)

How can we move away from the fossil fuels that have supported our lives and industry up to now? This will be the year to put those measures needed to accomplish such a transition into practice. The 28th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28) adopted an outcome document in December 2023. It seeks to promote a "transition away from fossil fuels" to achieve its goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. 

The Paris Agreement to prevent global warming aims to limit the rise in temperature to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial revolution levels. However, global warming is progressing at a faster pace than earlier projected. This highlights the urgent need to move away from fossil fuels, which emit carbon dioxide (CO2) that has a greenhouse effect. 

Expanding the introduction of renewable energy is attracting greater attention as a way to achieve this goal. However, the amount of renewable energy generated varies greatly, depending on the natural conditions in individual countries. There is clearly more than one path to decarbonization

Prime Minister Kishida greets participants of the AZEC summit meeting on December 18, 2023. (Pool photo)

Importance of the Asia Zero Emission Community

In that sense, the Asia Zero Emission Community (AZEC) is an initiative that is playing an important role. Led by Japan, it aims to decarbonize Asia. Hopefully, Japan will continue to assist other countries using the decarbonization technology and know-how it has honed. These would facilitate its international contributions. 

AZEC has 10 members besides Japan. It includes Australia and all the members of ASEAN, except for Myanmar. 

The AZEC Summit was convened at the Prime Minister's Office. (Pool photo)

Asia, including China, accounts for about half of the world's CO2 emissions. Many AZEC member countries have a high ratio of coal-fired power generation. They also have natural conditions similar to those in Japan that make it difficult to rapidly expand the use of renewables. 

The joint statement adopted at the AZEC's first summit meeting held in Japan in December 2023 clearly stated that member states would aim for decarbonization through "diverse and realistic paths." It cited several specific forms of technical support, including strengthening energy conservation, next-generation small nuclear power plants, and greater use of ammonia and hydrogen, which do not emit CO2 when burned.

The first AZEC summit meeting was held on December 18, 2023. (Pool photo)

Japan's Role in AZEC

The promotion of AZEC will also be in Japan's national interest. At COP28, Japan did not join the coal-free coalition led by the United States and France. Instead, it is at the forefront of the development of "mixed combustion" technology involving the burning of ammonia mixed with coal. This technology, however, has been widely criticized in Europe and the United States as a way to extend the life of coal-fired power generation. 

Cultivating allies is essential to ensure that Japan's position is widely understood in international negotiations. Through AZEC, we will be able to contribute to decarbonization in Asia. Moreover, together we can show that various paths to decarbonization are possible.


(Read the editorial in Japanese.)

Author: Editorial Board, The Sankei Shimbun


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