Japanese and U.S. non-state actors involving businesses and local governments signed a partnership on Thursday to take more aggressive climate change actions than those of their central governments for the achievement of goals set by the 2015 Paris Agreement.
The Japanese Climate Initiative, comprised of more than 200 Japanese companies, municipalities and nonprofit organizations, signed a memorandum of understanding with America's Pledge during the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco, which brings together some 4,000 activists against climate change.
"After the (1997) Kyoto Protocol, Japan used to be one of the leaders" in addressing climate change, but "other countries have started to move ahead" of Japan, Takejiro Sueyoshi, the leading JCI advocate and special adviser to the U.N. Environment Program Finance Initiative in the Asia-Pacific region, told Kyodo News.
"We believe that Japan can and should play a greater role in the world in realizing a decarbonized society," the JCI said in a statement. "In order to realize the goal of the Paris Agreement, Japanese non-state actors are beginning to play active roles in pursing more ambitious goals than the official commitment of the Japanese government."
The MOU is "the first step in a global movement which will be based on the principle that solving the climate problem is not a task for governments," said America's Pledge Vice Chair Carl Pope. "It is a task for societies."
The partnership is meant to provide knowledge sharing and exchange of best practices in developing sub-national solutions to implement the Paris Agreement, according to a press release.
The America's Pledge initiative, which was established in July last year following President Donald Trump's announcement that the United States would withdraw from the Paris Agreement, has a network of thousands of cities, states and businesses committed to "bottom-up climate progress."
It is co-chaired by California Gov. Jerry Brown and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who serves as U.N. special envoy for climate action.
Members of the JCI, which was launched in July this year, include Ajinomoto Co., Fujifilm Holdings Corp., Panasonic Corp. and SoftBank Group Corp. as well as more than 20 municipalities such as the Tokyo metropolitan government, Kyoto city and prefecture and Osaka city.
The JCI is scheduled to host the Japan Climate Change Action Summit in Tokyo on Oct. 12 to discuss ways to proceed with efforts to seek a carbon-free society, which will be joined by America's Pledge.
In May, the Climate Action Tracker rated Japan as "highly insufficient" in its efforts toward the Paris Agreement's goal of maintaining warming to less than 2 C above pre-industrial levels.
The research group said while Japan is on pace to achieve short-term goals, the country's continued use of coal power and plans to build new coal plants "remain a concern."