Japan will take the lead in efforts to achieve a net zero carbon world by utilizing ocean-based renewable energy sources, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said Thursday.
Suga's declaration came a day after he and 13 other world leaders released a manifesto outlining how their countries will prioritize ocean conservation without impinging on economic activity.
The first leadership statement issued by the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy, or the Ocean Panel, said its members are committed to managing sustainably 100 percent of ocean areas under their national jurisdiction by 2025.
The nations urged all ocean states, even those outside the panel, to draw up plans to do the same by 2030 in hopes of restoring wild fish populations, minimizing ocean waste, and promoting renewable energy derived from the ocean, whether it is from wind or other sources.
"By accelerating a virtuous cycle of the economy and the environment through innovation, as well as utilizing the potential of the ocean such as offshore wind power, Japan will lead international efforts to achieve a decarbonized world that the Paris Agreement aims for," said Suga in a video message played at a webinar.
Suga has already pledged to reduce his country's greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, in line with other countries.
The leaders' document said the world must "urgently reduce greenhouse gas emissions in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement," while noting the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted "the deep interconnections between human and planetary health and the need for nations to work together to respond to global threats."
As the document underscored the urgent need to respond to the rapid increase in the production and consumption of single-use plastic products, such as protective gear used by medical personnel in dealing with the pandemic, Suga stressed that "collaborating with the international community on the issue of marine plastic litter is also indispensable toward facilitating ocean conservation."
Set up in 2018, the 14 members of the panel are Australia, Canada, Chile, Fiji, Ghana, Indonesia, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Namibia, Norway, Palau and Portugal.
Together, the members cover some 40 percent of the world's coastlines and 30 percent of the world's exclusive economic zones but major countries such as the United States, China and Russia are not involved.