The Japanese government began its annual "Warm Biz" energy-saving campaign on Monday, encouraging people to take environmentally friendly steps in beating the winter cold.

Under the campaign running through March, the Environment Ministry is asking people to set their room temperatures at 20 C. Some officials were seen wearing sweaters while others covered their laps with blankets.

Employees at the Environment Ministry work wearing sweaters on Nov. 2, 2020 in Tokyo, as the government begins the "Warm Biz" campaign to promote energy conservation. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

This year's seasonal campaign came after Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga recently pledged to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 in his first policy speech in parliament since taking office in mid-September.

"I want to encourage people to dress warmly so as not to rely on air heating," said Keiichi Kikuchi, the head of the ministry's division in charge of the campaign, while noting the importance of room ventilation to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus.

The government-led campaign started in 2005 to promote energy conservation to help mitigate global warming. Wearing layered clothing, use of thermal insulation materials for buildings, and the promotion of energy-saving home appliances are among the options encouraged.

Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi said last week starting from next year the government will no longer set the dates for when to run "Warm Biz," as well as the "Cool Biz" campaign every summer, and will leave companies and individuals to follow their own leads.