Satoshi Ikeuchi, Professor, Religion and Global Security, University of Tokyo

Environmental policies are converging on a global scale. The buzzword is “Net-zero by 2050.”

Neither energy consuming/importing countries nor energy producing/exporting countries can escape the goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions.

One after another, major industrialized countries and international organizations, both in the West and the East, are announcing ambitious plans for attaining carbon neutral by 2050.

EU, the standard bearer of the environmental issue, has been leading this strategic competition of scenario-planning and goal setting. It is proposing scenarios to cut emissions by half by 2030 compared to 1990 and aiming at carbon neutrality by 2050, under its grand plan of the “European Green Deal.”

China, the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter, pledged net-zero goals by 2060 in the President Xi’s speech to the UN General Assembly in September 2020 and in its 14th Five Year Plan (2021-2025) called “National Economic and Social Development and the Long-Range Objectives Toward 2035” it proposed a blueprint for having CO2 emissions curve in the next 10 years, making 2030 its peak.

Japan joined the fray and is introducing national planning aiming at “Beyond-Zero” economy, upwardly revising the goal, in this April, of the carbon neutral by 2050 and 46% emissions reduction by 2030, compared to the year 2013.

Israeli government, on Sunday July 25, approved the 85% reduction target by 2050 compared to 2015, with an interim target of reduction by 27% by 2030.

Now Indonesia, a Southeast Asian economic tiger who depends heavily on coal for its energy, filed to the United Nations this month documents on low carbon development policy and set the target of zero emissions by 2060, reducing emissions by 41% by 2030 with the help of international assistance.

The UAE is reportedly considering to be the first OPEC oil producing countries to pledge net-zero target by 2050.

It is as if countries and organizations of the world are competing each other how far they slash and shrink themselves.

If these ambitious goals to be achieved, significant technological innovations and drastic social transformations are needed. Advancing technologies to capture and store carbon dioxide and expanding the use of hydrogen fuel, these pledges are reduced to be empty words.

Gulf oil producers and the East Asian industrial countries would become join hands in developing these crucial technologies in the green economy and grow more interdependent in their joint effort in weathering the high tide and the huge head wind in the ongoing era of energy transformation.