Japan Finally Declares A Climate Emergency!!

Japan Finally Declares A Climate Emergency!!


After years of trying to get the government to wake up and recognize the crisis, activists have finally gotten their wish. Yesterday, the Japanese Diet declared a climate emergency (Reuters). It was near unanimous.

Japan’s Lawmakers Declare A Climate Emergency

(CNA) Channel News Asia

A Long Time Coming

As one of the world’s wealthiest economies, Japan has a considerable responsibility. This is further emphasized by the country’s over-reliance on fossil fuels. See also Japan’s Struggle With Sustainability.

For those of us understandably concerned by the climate crisis, this was a win! Recognizing that this is a climate emergency is a necessary step toward change. But it is still a first step. It must be followed by action.

Godzilla gif.

An Emergency Requires Action

While the resolution itself is non-binding, it is meant to green-light climate initiatives, signalling the government’s seriousness. I genuinely hope this is the case. Just last month, the government also committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2050. This also appears to be potentially optimistic, if too far off in terms of timeline.

The 2018 IPPC report warned us that we only had 12 years to take serious action, and that was to avert a 2C increase in global warming. We know now that the limit should have been set to 1.5C (see Global Warming of 1.5). Clearly, there’s a lot of work to do.

Waking up!! From the 2016 Japanese film Your Name (君の名は).
Image: 2016 film, “Your Name” (君の名は).

A Gradual Awakening

Still, the government was not reacting. This, despite the increased floods, typhoons, heatwaves, mudslides, etc. Japan has been experiencing a seemingly endless barrage of climate disasters in recent years. It couldn’t be more obvious that in order to mitigate environmental disasters, Japan would also have to tackle climate change.

However, when activists petitioned the government (including at the local level) they were constantly dismissed. For our part, Sustainably Motivated has been encouraging citizens to write their legislators. While some progress was made, only a handful of cities & prefectures have declared a climate emergency (cedamia). Iki City (Nagasaki) was the first in Japan, and that was just September of last year (Japan Times).

Thankfully, the national government has responded to pressure from citizens, businesses, international organizations, and ultimately the environment. As stated in the emergency resolution, “Global warming issues are beyond the scope of climate change and becoming a climate crisis…” (Asahi Shimbun). Let’s hope they now mean what they say, and help hold them accountable if they do not. 🙏💚 💪


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