Weekly News | 1st to 15th October 2023

Codo Advisory keeps an eye for you on the latest events and trends in climate finance and corporate sustainability, in the world and in Japan. Here’s what caught our attention last week. 

  • Japan has introduced a carbon credit trading scheme with ambitious targets to cut carbon emissions by 46% by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. 
  • The nation faces challenges in transitioning to clean energy due to a strained national power system, caused in part by a drop in nuclear power generation following the Fukushima disaster in 2011. 
  • Japan’s heavy reliance on fossil fuels for electricity generation sets it apart from larger economic rivals like the United States and China, which have made significant strides in renewable energy deployment. 
  • Japan’s energy transition efforts are further hampered by slow progress in reducing fossil fuel demand in key sectors like transportation and industry, where the adoption of electric vehicles and clean power remains relatively low compared to other regions. 
  • Read more about this story: Reuters, Nikkei Asia, Bloomberg 

Codo’s comment: With Japan being the 5th largest emitter of carbon dioxide (CO2) globally, the launch of its own carbon credit system is a commendable stride in the fight against climate change. This market-based approach incentivizes businesses to reduce carbon emissions, driving innovation and investment in cleaner technologies. However, it is crucial to recognize that carbon credits only offer a short-term solution. Rather than confront the difficult questions inherent to rethinking business strategy to entail integrated decarbonization, carbon credits are often used instead to delay the imperative for on-site emissions reductions. As a result, companies often are able to reduce their short-term costs (both monetary and in generating stakeholder buy-in) but lock themselves into continual, long-term spending subject to the price of carbon on the market. In addition to these challenges, the availability of suitable offset projects islimited, and even issued credits face issues of double counting uncertainty and accountability. The true goal of carbon credits should be to fund projects in line with realizing a comprehensive strategy entailing substantial transformation through, above all, systemic changes.  

  • India’s decision to ban exports of non-basmati white rice following the heavy rains in July brings concerns about rising global rice prices. 
  • This export ban has the potential to spark worldwide anxiety about food security, as rice is a dietary staple for billions of people, particularly in Asia. 
  • The situation highlights the vulnerability of global food supply chains to events directly linked with climate change and the need for effective strategies to address potential food shortages and affordability issues. 
  • It also underscores the importance of international cooperation in making climate change mitigation efforts, but also managing and stabilizing essential food markets.  
  • Read more about this story: Nikkei Asia, BBC 

Codo’s comment: Rice is a crucial staple crop for much of the world. Due to both its heavy water dependence and required anaerobic gestation period, it is one of the most susceptible stable crops to climate change. This is just one example of the disruptions climate change can bring. It is a stark reminder of the irrefutable relationship between climate change and global food security. Climate change is not a far-off, abstract concept. It is happening here and now, and it is causing increasingly severe and unpredictable weather patterns. By continuing our current trajectory, these extreme weather events will become more frequent and devastating. The risk to food security from climate change is amplified by geopolitical conflicts in places like Ukraine – a major producer of both rice and wheat. While efforts have been made to increase food supply chain resiliency, it is far from sufficient given the multilateral stresses being applied.  Food security is not just a concern for one region, but a global issue..  

  • The European Banking Authority (EBA) is revising the capital requirements framework for European banks to include environmental and social risks, a global first in integrating ESG factors into mandatory, industrywide buffers. 
  • Some immediate changes to minimum requirements (known as Pillar 1) can be implemented, while others will be phased in over time, requiring new legislation. 
  • The move reflects the recognition that ESG factors, particularly climate change and inequality, pose an increasing threat to financial stability, impacting traditional financial risk categories. 
  • These efforts are part of a broader shift in Europe towards addressing climate change and promoting sustainable finance, with the EU taking a global lead in responding to climate-related financial risks.  
  • Read more about this story: Bloomberg Green, Reuters 

Codo’s comment: This move is especially significant because it’s not just a minor adjustment. It is a comprehensive shift that sets the bar for the entire financial world. It is the financial sector’s answer to the global call for a more responsible and ethical approach to investments and risk assessment by initiatives such as the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), and the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB). By rewriting the rules, the EBA acknowledges that ESG factors are at the heart of financial stability and recognizes that addressing climate change is not just an ethical or environmental concern, but a financial imperative. It is a significant step in demonstrating the maturity of ESG as an investing practice. As the EU takes this pivotal step, we can expect a ripple effect across the world. Other countries and regions will undoubtedly take notice and consider similar moves.

  • The Japanese government and Malaysia’s state oil firm, Petronas, have reached an agreement to explore the export of carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted in Japan to storage facilities in Malaysia as a climate change mitigation strategy. 
  • This collaborative effort reflects a commitment to innovative solutions in addressing climate challenges by redirecting CO2 emissions away from the atmosphere. 
  • Such initiatives demonstrate the global nature of climate change mitigation efforts, where countries work together to reduce emissions and store CO2, potentially setting a precedent for future international cooperation in this regard. 
  • The move underscores the significance of cross-border partnerships in addressing the complex issue of climate change and working towards a more sustainable future. 
  • Read more about this story: Nikkei Asia, The Japan Times, Reuters 

Codo’s comment: This bilateral agreement is important because Japan has very few suitable areas geologically suitable to store captured carbon. Even though Japan has fully completed and operational carbon capture capabilities (500 t/day, Kyushu Japan), due to the lack of economically viable storage infrastructure it is sitting entirely unused. Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is important for industries in which complete decarbonization is unlikely or slow (steel, construction, etc) – known as Hard-to-Abate industries – but it is not intended for general application across industries. As with carbon credits (which are largely tied to CCS), corporations must focus on transformational emission reduction from the very design of products, services, and business models.   

  • The EU has not yet established a clear timeline to end fossil fuel subsidies, despite increasing global pressure to transition to cleaner energy sources. 
  • The failure to set a definitive end date for fossil fuel subsidies before COP28 raises concerns about the EU’s commitment to tackling climate change. 
  • The delay in ending such subsidies may hinder progress toward achieving carbon reduction goals and hamper the transition to sustainable energy solutions. 
  • This underscores the challenges and complexities of moving away from carbon-intensive energy practices in Europe.  
  • Read more about this story: Bloomberg Green, Le Monde  

Codo’s comment: Fossil fuel subsidies not only run counter to climate goals but also perpetuate an unsustainable energy system. With the urgency of the climate crisis, a firm timeline for phasing out these subsidies should be a priority. The delay raises concerns about the EU’s dedication to meeting its climate targets and undermines the credibility of its climate leadership on the global stage. As the recognized global leader in green regulation, when the EU delays such decisive action, they significantly delay international action as well. Clarity and swift action are essential to show that the EU is serious about aligning its policies with its climate ambitions and to put pressure on the world to address this deeply ingrained systematic issue. 

  • The Mississippi River is experiencing record low water levels in the Missouri to Arkansas stretch, disrupting vital shipments of grain and other goods. 
  • These low water levels are impeding the transportation of goods during a critical time, affecting various industries and supply chains that rely on the river for distribution. 
  • The situation highlights the vulnerability of critical infrastructure like the Mississippi River to extreme weather events and climate-related challenges. 
  • Measures and investments to address the impacts of low water levels and adapt to changing climate conditions are crucial to maintain the reliability of this important transportation route. 
  • Read more about this story: ABC News, USA Today 

Codo’s comment: As with the poor rice harvest that has led India to restrict its exports, this case is a stark and alarming testament to the very real and immediate consequences of climate change. The Mississippi River is often referred to as the “spine” of the US’ transportation system, since it is a vital artery that moves historically essential goods. When it is struggling with historically low water levels, it is not just an inconvenience; it is a crisis. The crisis extends to ecological impacts, as seawater begins to flood the reduced river – introducing invasive species and threatening infrastructure not designed for salt water. While climate change is causing increasingly erratic weather patterns and events, these conditions are not only leading to immediate disruptions, but also threatening the livelihoods of millions. 

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About our weekly news

The above article is a summary of news hand-picked and commented on by our team of experts. We monitor a selection of leading international and Japanese sources, including generalist and specialized press, communication from public authorities, and publications from recognized non-profit organizations.

This edition was prepared by Mayu Hirata, Ilayda Tenim and reviewed by Emilie Jones.

About us

Codo Advisory is a Japan-based consulting agency offering independent advisory services to help Japanese companies define and refine their low-carbon transition strategy, to reduce their risks and reinforce their global competitiveness. Feel free to read more about our services and team, or contact us if you’d like to discuss how we can work together.

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