As temperatures continue to rise and weather patterns become more extreme, global ecosystems have become dangerously strained – threatening both precious biodiversity and human civilization. As global superpowers, the United States and Japan are well-positioned to galvanize the fight against climate change and spearhead sustainable business practices. The U.S.-Japan Council is committed to protecting our planet. By bringing together climate experts, business leaders, government officials and the next generation, we instigate critical conversations and key dialogues that identify challenges and promote innovative solutions for a greener future.
Our Climate & Sustainability Initiative is designed to put the spotlight on the climate crisis. Through virtual and in-person events and activities, we challenge bilateral leaders and change-makers to share strategies and take action.
Experts Discuss Nature-based Solutions for Addressing Climate Change
On September 6 (U.S.), USJC held a webinar titled “Nature-based Solutions for Addressing Climate Change: An Outlook for Japan and the Asia-Pacific” which explored how Nature-based Solutions (NbS) are emerging as multi-purpose solutions for climate mitigation and adaptation, the preservation of biodiversity and the creation of a new economic market.
Japan Region Discusses Latest Global Developments in Sustainability
On June 26, 2023, the U.S.-Japan Council’s Japan region held a discussion on the latest global developments in sustainability reporting and how the United States, the European Union and International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) Foundation are driving these changes. USJC Associate Kyle Lawless (EY) provided an insightful overview of what has happened since the Japan Region’s last update on international sustainability standards in November 2022. Mr. Lawless also spoke about impactful efforts by key players in detail and provided an outlook of what to expect in the upcoming year.
Unlocking Japan’s Renewable Energy Future
On June 21 (U.S.), USJC held a webinar titled “Unlocking Japan’s Renewable Energy Future,” which provided participants with an updated understanding of the various renewable energy initiatives in place across the government and the private sectors in Japan, and explored the potential roles of multi-sector stakeholders in helping Japan achieve greater adoption of renewable energy.
The Honorable KOIKE Yuriko, Governor of Tokyo, shared Tokyo’s ambitious goals of Carbon Half 2030 and Zero Emission 2050 and innovating pathways to increase renewable energy adoption, including mandatory installment of solar power equipment to certain new houses, mandatory installment of battery charging stations to certain buildings, introducing hydrogen-related facilities and more. She stressed that it is “TIME TO ACT.”
An esteemed panel discussion of experts followed the Governor’s remarks.
Roundtable on Meeting the Twin Challenges of Climate Change and Energy Security through Methane Mitigation
On March 14, 2023, the U.S.-Japan Council and the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo co-hosted a “Roundtable on Meeting the Twin Challenges of Climate Change and Energy Security through Methane Mitigation.” Nearly 50 leaders from government, business, technology, industry association and non-profit communities from the United States, Japan and the European Commission gathered together to explore pathways to reduce harmful methane emissions. The two-hour dialogue addressed how near-term action to reduce methane emissions could increase gas supply and reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions. This event was held within the Council’s Climate and Sustainability Initiative supported by the Initiative’s Founding Strategic Partner, Amazon.
Methane, a greenhouse gas, is often overlooked for the better-known carbon dioxide (CO2). However, methane warrants greater attention as it is responsible for about 30% of the current rise in global temperatures, according to the IEA. Methane concentration in the atmosphere is about 2.5 times greater than pre-industrial levels, and is rising steadily as a result of continued fossil fuel (oil, gas, coal) operations and burning biomass (woodlands, savanna, agricultural waste). Though it has a shorter atmospheric lifespan compared to carbon dioxide (approximately 12 years compared to carbon dioxide’s centuries), methane is, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “more than 25 times as potent as carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere” and absorbs a far greater amount of energy while it exists there in the atmosphere.
2022 Annual Conference Sustainability Roundtable
On October 27, 2022, USJC convened its first in-person Sustainability Roundtable, gathering over 50 Japanese and American sustainability leaders from the corporate, finance, non-profit, academia and government sectors. This gathering was made possible by the generous anchor funding from the Climate & Sustainability Initiative Founding Strategic Partner, Amazon.
The meeting included senior executives, next generation leaders, and thought leaders and was held under Chatham House rules. Speakers from Amazon, Salesforce, Hitachi, Japan Airlines, and Toyota shared roadmaps and lessons for their peers; representatives from the U.S. and Japanese governments outlined key agenda items for the future. The group was fortunate to close the event with a fascinating presentation by the former Executive Director of the International Energy Agency, Dr. TANAKA Nobuo.
U.S.-Japan Climate Partnership: Increasing the Availability of Affordable Clean Energy
On August 29, 2022, the U.S.-Japan Council hosted a webinar titled, “U.S.-Japan Climate Partnership: Increasing the Availability of Affordable Clean Energy.” This dialogue brought together multi-sector leaders to offer inspiration and practical insights into how to bridge the gap in the United States and Japan between demand and supply of low-cost renewable energy through effective engagement of key stakeholders. Representatives from the U.S. and Japanese governments provided special remarks around each administration’s policy plans, while we heard from Amazon and USJC (President & CEO, Suzanne Basalla) about private and multi-sector initiatives to work with government and industry leaders to achieve sustainability goals.
The main event of the webinar was a dialogue with utility and energy company representatives. First we heard a special message from Governor UCHIBORI Masao of Fukushima Prefecture, who enthusiastically talked about decarbonization efforts in the prefecture and the numerous public-private joint development projects driving these efforts. During the live panel discussion, Scott Seu, CEO of Hawaiian Electric Industries, discussed their work to introduce renewable energy in Hawaii and the regulatory processes that are driving incentives to change the market. MATSUO Yusuke, Executive Director of the Japan Climate Leaders’ Partnership (JCLP), discussed numerous issues around the supply and demand of renewable energy in Japan and the positive impact of JCLP’s policy advocacy efforts. The dialogue was moderated by USJC Council Leader Aya Kameda, General Manager of Shell Energy Japan.
U.S.-Japan Leadership in Addressing the Climate Crisis (featuring U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, John Kerry, and Japan’s Minister of the Environment, KOIZUMI Shinjiro)
On August 31, 2021 (U.S.) and September 1, 2021 (Japan), the U.S.-Japan Council (USJC) hosted the first 2021 Bilateral Boardroom, “U.S.-Japan Leadership in Addressing the Climate Crisis,” featuring U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, John Kerry, and Japan’s Minister of the Environment, KOIZUMI Shinjiro. Suzanne Basalla, USJC President and CEO, moderated the dialogue between the two world leaders focusing on various insights around individual and joint efforts at combating climate change. The discussion was recorded on August 24, one week prior to Secretary Kerry’s planned visit to Tokyo.
[Japan Perspectives Webinar Series] Energy, Climate, & Environmental Sustainability in the Biden & Suga Administrations
On January 27, 2021, the U.S.-Japan Council held its first installment of the “Japan Perspectives” webinar series with a climate-related discussion featuring Christine Harada (Climate & Impact Investor; Executive Council, Clean Energy for Biden) and Ken Koyama, Ph.D. (Senior Managing Director, Chief Economist, Strategy Research Unit, The Institute of Energy Economics, Japan (IEEJ)). Attendees tuned in for this virtual event in which Ms. Harada and Dr. Koyama discussed key challenges to energy, climate and environmental sustainability and how the Biden and Suga administrations are preparing and taking action to address them through policy measures and initiatives. Following the program, an “after-session” was held for USJC members, sponsors and other invited guests to discuss the dialogue and network with each other and the speakers.