USJC Hosts Panel on Energy, Climate & Environmental Sustainability in the Biden and Suga Administrations

On January 27, 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. 

Ms. Harada has over 20 years of success in leading government and management consulting organizations and served as the Federal Chief Sustainability Officer for the Obama administration. In this role, she provided oversight for all sustainability-related initiatives across the federal government in energy, fleet and acquisitions – game-changing improvements that added to America’s clean energy future. 

Dr. Koyama is known for his expertise in energy security issues and the geopolitics of energy. His research in the area of energy economics and the world oil and gas market has been published extensively in national and international journals and books. He has served as a member of energy policy-related advisory councils and committees of Japanese government on numerous occasions. Most recently, he was appointed as a Director of Japan Electric Power Exchange (JEPX).

The speakers discussed each administration’s missions to address the climate crisis and praised the climate change-related executive orders that were signed by President Biden just hours before the webinar. Ms. Harada described the Biden administration’s Build Back Better plan, and Dr. Koyama described Japan’s Strategic Energy Plan. 

Dr. Koyama expressed the need for international cooperation, emphasizing that we are now “heavily dependent on fossil fuel supply to run our economy.” The possibility of a “Hydrogen Society” was also discussed. Ms. Harada was encouraged by the increase in awareness about climate change, and mentioned that she believes it is important to work “hand-in-hand with… labor unions and trade associations” on climate issues. 

The event was moderated by Council Leader and President/CEO of LHA Ventures, Lorraine H. Akiba. She is a recognized thought leader with technical expertise and knowledge in the development of Hawaii’s renewable and clean energy policy and both state and federal regulatory frameworks. 

The webinar is available to watch online here. The next event in this series will be held on February 24 at 6:00pm ET and will discuss U.S.-China relations & implications for Japan and East Asia.

-Kazuma Parkinson
USJC Intern