China appreciates and welcomes Japan’s announcement that it will achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, and is willing to strengthen discussions with Japan on green recovery in the post-pandemic era, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said Monday.  

Earlier on Monday, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga sets a 2050 deadline for the world’s third-largest economy to become carbon neutral in his first policy address since taking office last month, significantly firming up the country’s climate change commitments. 

The plan by Japan will help strengthen the international community’s joint efforts to address the challenges of climate change, Zhao said at a regular press briefing in Beijing,  

He stressed that climate change is a major challenge facing all mankind, and countries must stick to multilateralism and unite their strengths to deal with it together.  

This year marks the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement on climate change, and China is willing to work with all parties, including Japan, to promote the full and effective implementation of the agreement and jointly build a win-win, fair and reasonable climate governance mechanism, Zhao noted.  

China set an explicit goal last month to go carbon neutral before 2060.

Read more: China calls for global green revolution in the post-COVID era

Japan, also a signatory to the Paris Agreement, had previously only aimed to achieve carbon neutrality some time in the latter half of the century, a goal that critics called vague. Its new target is the same as the European Union’s and the UK’s.  

“Responding to climate change is no longer a constraint on economic growth,” Suga said in a prepared speech. 

“We need to change our thinking to the view that taking assertive measures against climate change will lead to changes in industrial structure and the economy that will bring about great growth,” he added.  

He did not give precise details on how Japan, the world’s fifth largest emitter of carbon dioxide that still relies heavily on coal, will meet the deadline. But he said technology would be essential and new solar cells and carbon recycling would be key. 

He added that Japan would also push the use of renewable energy and nuclear power, stressing that safety would be a priority – a key point in a country that suffered the Fukushima nuclear disaster nearly a decade ago.