Searching for smart, safe news you can TRUST?

Support safe, smart, REAL journalism. Sign up for our Axios AM & PM newsletters and get smarter, faster.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Searching for smart, safe news you can TRUST?

Support safe, smart, REAL journalism. Sign up for our Axios AM & PM newsletters and get smarter, faster.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Minneapolis-St. Paul

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa-St. Petersburg news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa-St. Petersburg

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Now that Japan has set a target to become carbon-neutral by 2050, the scale of the challenge is coming into focus — especially when it comes to the country's reliance on coal.

Driving the news: Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's Monday speech announcing the target vowed to "fundamentally shift our long-standing policy on coal-fired power generation," Climate Home News reports.

The big picture: Bloomberg has a good breakdown here. It notes that coal provides over a third of Japan's power and became more prominent after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

  • It presents numbers in the International Energy Agency's "sustainable development scenario," which show that Japan's coal-fired generation would need to fall to about 12% of 2019 levels by 2030.
  • Japan will "will need to more than quadruple the pace at which it shuts down coal plants" to get on track with the midcentury target, they report.
  • And Dave Jones of the clean energy think tank Ember tweeted that IEA's even more aggressive global "net zero" by 2050 model suggests that Japan would need a full coal phaseout in a decade.

Where it stands: Suga's pledge is quickly prompting environmentalists to boost pressure on Japan to strengthen its nearer-term policies.

  • Helen Mountford of the World Resources Institute applauded the 2050 commitment, but added, "the country must also set a much bolder emissions reduction target for 2030 than the surprisingly weak plan it put forward earlier this year."
  • And the New York Times points out that Japan is currently still investing in coal-fired power, noting Japan has "planned or is in the process of building 17 new coal-burning power plants."

What we're watching: The specifics of Japan's eventual plans to implement what for now is a vague pledge. The country plans to look to technologies including offshore wind and hydrogen, per several reports.

Go deeper

Amy Harder, author of Generate
Nov 16, 2020 - Energy & Environment
Column / Harder Line

Biden's Day 1 challenges: Climate change

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President-elect Joe Biden will face constraints of both politics and time when it comes to pursuing his aggressive climate-change agenda.

Driving the news: Biden will enter a White House after four years of President Trump rolling back climate policies and time running out to substantively address the problem.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

New deals in the COVID economy

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

COVID-19 is the macro horror of our lifetimes, and has destroyed or severely damaged countless businesses. But, like with most horribles, it also has created some opportunities.

Driving the news: Merck this morning announced an agreement to buy OncoImmune, a Maryland-based biotech that showed promising late-stage clinical results for a therapy that treats severe and critical coronavirus cases.

3 hours ago - Technology

Biden's openings for tech progress

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images 

Item No. 1 on President-elect Joe Biden's day-one tech agenda, controlling the flood of misinformation online, offers no fast fixes — but other tech issues facing the new administration hold out opportunities for quick action and concrete progress.

What to watch: Closing the digital divide will be a high priority, as the pandemic has exposed how many Americans still lack reliable in-home internet connections and the devices needed to work and learn remotely.