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Global businesses urge Japanese Government to accelerate renewable energy goals

24 March 2021, 6:00 UTC 6 min read

Leading global businesses, including those with headquarters and operations in Japan, today urged the Japanese Government to more than double its renewable energy commitment by 2030 to rapidly accelerate the country’s transition to a clean economy.

Major corporations from the RE100 initiative – led by the Climate Group in partnership with CDP - called on the country’s political leadership to set a new ambitious energy goal to dramatically increase Japan’s renewable energy target ahead of COP26 to 50%.

In an open letter to the country’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, more than 50 RE100 companies – who include some of the world’s best known brands such as Google, AstraZeneca, Nestlé, Ricoh, Panasonic and Nikon - welcomed Japan’s commitment to net-zero emissions by the middle of the century, but stressed that more needed to be done to deliver clean energy for decades to come.

The letter said: “Increasing the 2030 renewable energy target to 50% from 22-24% in the Strategic Energy Plan would send powerful market signals to help jumpstart a green economic recovery. It would also reduce exposure to fossil fuels, which carry hefty price volatility and geopolitical risks. Finally, offering greater corporate access to more abundant renewable energy will help businesses achieve their climate goals, which often align with Japan’s climate vision.”

RE100 members recently cited Japan as one of the most challenging markets in the world because of high costs and limited availability of renewables despite increasing corporate demand for clean energy. The share of renewable electricity among RE100 members in Japan is 14% - compared to 91% in the UK or 39% in India.

As a priority, the RE100 signatories stressed that Japan should strengthen its grid and enable offsite corporate renewable power purchase agreements (PPAs), also proposed by the Japan Climate Leaders’ Partnership (JCLP), to drive down costs and support the country’s Green Growth Strategy. 

Corporate PPAs, which speed up the deployment of renewable energy projects at guaranteed cost, have transformed power markets in the US, Europe and across Asia-Pacific in recent years. 

“Many major businesses in Japan want to embrace clean energy, but the high costs of renewables and limited availability often remain the biggest stumbling blocks to them making the switch. As RE100 members make clear, now is the time for the Japanese Government to be bold in its energy policy and commit to a 50% renewable energy target by 2030. This will help drive forward Japan’s green economic recovery and pave the way for a clean energy future for businesses and consumers alike.”

Aleksandra Klassen, RE100 Senior Impact Manager at the Climate Group

Eri Hirayama, Country Sustainability Manager, IKEA, said: “At IKEA we are committed to source 100% of our electricity from renewable sources by 2025, and we know many businesses share similar ambitions. If companies cannot easily and affordably source renewable energy for their operations here, then they may end up investing elsewhere. And if products made here aren’t produced using 100% renewable energy, those products will be less attractive on the global market. We hope that the Japanese Government will see this challenge as we see it; an opportunity to increase our competitiveness, to spur investment, and as being the right thing to do for the sustainable future of this country.”

Akiyoshi Koji, President and Representative Director, CEO of Asahi Group Holdings, said: “As a group of companies operating business using ‘the blessing of nature,’ we are seeking to pass on ‘the blessing of nature’ to future generations by actively promoting initiatives to address a wide range of environmental issues. In particular, we will work on our climate change initiatives to achieve zero CO2 emission by 2050. To achieve this, we will actively promote the introduction of renewable energy and signed this letter in the hope that Japan will become a world-leading environmentally advanced country.”

Jake Yamashita, President and CEO, Ricoh, said “High costs and limited availability remain the biggest barriers to renewable energy in Japan. That is why we back proposals to increase the renewable energy target from 22-24% to 50% by 2030 to better support businesses like us who are committed to creating a far more sustainable society. Looking ahead, there are some positive developments to come including the new Prime Minister's declaration of carbon neutrality by 2050 and the creation of a 2 trillion yen fund for decarbonisation research. The next 10 years will be a period of great change for the renewable energy market in Japan.”

Yoshinori Isozaki, President and CEO, Kirin Holdings, said: “As a member of RE100 which has pledged to use 100% renewable electricity by 2040, Kirin supports the initiative of RE100 to encourage the Japanese government to set a 50% 2030 renewables target.”

Notes to editors 

To read the letter to the Japanese Government, click here

1.    The following RE100 businesses signed the letter to the Japanese Government:

3M, Aeon, Ajinomoto, Apple, Asahi Group Holdings, Asahi Kasei Homes Corporation, ASICS, ASKUL Corporation, Asset Management One, AstraZeneca, Biogen, Coop Sapporo, Dai-ichi Life Holdings, Daiwa House Industry , DSM, Envipro Holdings , First Solar, FUJIFILM Holdings Corporation, Fujikura , Fujitsu, Fuyo General Lease, Google, Hazama Ando Corporation, Ichigo, IKEA, Jinko Solar, Kirin, Kumagai Gumi, Marui Group, Murata Manufacturing , Nestlé, Nihon Unisys, Nikon Corporation , Nissin Foods Holdings , Nomura Research Institute, Noritz, Ono Pharmaceutical, Panasonic Corporation, Ricoh, Salesforce, Schneider Electric, Sekisui Chemical, Sekisui House, Seven & i Holdings, Sony Corporation, Sumitomo Forestry, Tetra Pak, The Johnan Shinkin Bank, Toda Corporation, Tokyu Land Corporation, Unilever, Watami, Zurich 

2. The RE100 Progress and Insights Annual Report 2020 revealed Japan as one of the most challenging markets in the world for RE100 companies to source 100% renewable power. More needs to be done for Japan to realise the scale and speed of demand-driven renewables investment that regions such as Europe and North America are already enjoying. Fully removing the barriers will allow Japan to progress quickly towards its net zero goal with little to no cost to public finances. 

3. In October 2020, JCLP (the Regional Delivery Partner for RE100 in Japan) issued “the Proposals for the Review of the Long-Term Energy Supply and Demand Outlook (Energy Mix)", calling on the government to set a target of 50% renewable electricity by 2030 to help achieve the 2050 net zero emissions goal.  

4. Earlier this year, Japanese companies Ichigo Inc., Kumagai Gumi Co., Ltd, Nikon Corporation, and Nissin Foods Holdings joined the RE100 initiative.

About RE100 
RE100 is a global initiative bringing together the world’s most influential businesses committed to 100% renewable power. Led by the Climate Group in partnership with CDP, the group have a total revenue of over US$6.6 trillion and operate in a diverse range of sectors. Together, they send a powerful signal to policymakers and investors to accelerate the transition to a clean economy. #RE100  

About the Climate Group 
The Climate Group drives climate action. Fast. Our goal is a world of net zero carbon emissions by 2050, with greater prosperity for all. We focus on systems with the highest emissions and where our networks have the greatest opportunity to drive change. We do this by building large and influential networks and holding organisations accountable, turning their commitments into action. We share what we achieve together to show more organisations what they could do. We are an international non-profit organisation, founded in 2004, with offices in London, New Delhi and New York. We are proud to be part of the We Mean Business coalition. Follow us on Twitter @ClimateGroup.   

About JCLP 
Japan Climate Leaders’ Partnership (JCLP) is a coalition of businesses (172 companies as of March 2021) that aims to create a carbon neutral society, built on the idea that decarbonisation is essential to economic development. The group’s total sales are 126 trillion JPY (US$1.2 trillion) and electricity demand together amounts to 53 TWh representing 7.7% of the electricity demand of the industries in Japan. It was set up in 2009 to encourage the business sector to develop a sound sense of urgency on climate action. The members share a common goal and proactively communicate with policy makers, business peers and the civil society. JCLP remains unique in Japan in that a key focus is policy engagement around actions for decarbonisation, aimed at both local and central governments in the country. Since April 2017, JCLP has been the Climate Group’s Regional Delivery Partner on RE100, EP100 and EV100 initiatives in Japan.

About CDP 
CDP is a global non-profit that runs the world’s environmental disclosure system for companies, cities, states and regions. Founded in 2000 and working with more than 590 investors with over $110 trillion in assets, CDP pioneered using capital markets and corporate procurement to motivate companies to disclose their environmental impacts, and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, safeguard water resources and protect forests. Over 10,000 organizations around the world disclosed data through CDP in 2020, including more than 9,600 companies worth over 50% of global market capitalization, and over 940 cities, states and regions, representing a combined population of over 2.6 billion. Fully TCFD aligned, CDP holds the largest environmental database in the world, and CDP scores are widely used to drive investment and procurement decisions towards a zero carbon, sustainable and resilient economy. CDP is a founding member of the Science Based Targets initiative, We Mean Business Coalition, The Investor Agenda and the Net Zero Asset Managers initiative. Visit or follow us @CDP to find out more.