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A pipe for transporting carbon dioxide to removal equipment is shown at the Tomakomai carbon, capture and storage test site in Tomakomai, Hokkaido prefecture, Japan, on March 22, 2018.Aaron Sheldrick/Reuters

Japan’s greenhouse gas emissions fell 2.5 per cent to a record low in the fiscal year through March 2023, government data showed on Friday, helped by reduced emissions in the industrial and service sectors.

Emissions for the 2022/23 year dropped to the equivalent of 1.135 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide from 1.164 billion tons a year earlier, data from the environment ministry showed.

The latest figure marked the lowest since data collection began in 1990/91 and came after emissions rose in 2021/22 for the first time in eight years.

The industrial sector saw a 5.3 per cent decline while the commercial and services sector experienced a 4.2 per cent drop, though the transportation sector witnessed a 3.9 per cent rise due to increased passenger traffic amid the recovery of socioeconomic activities from the pandemic, the ministry said.

Japan, the world’s fifth-biggest emitter, aims to reduce emissions by 46 per cent from 2013 levels by 2030. If achieved, 2030 emissions will be 0.76 billion tons.

The 2022/23 figure represents a reduction of 19.3 per cent from 2013.

“The emission continued a steady decline trend, on track toward a net-zero target in 2050,” an official at the ministry said at a news conference.

Meanwhile, the amount of greenhouse gases absorbed by forests and other sources in 2022/23 fell 6.4 per cent to 50.2 million tons due to the aging of planted forests, the ministry said.

The amount absorbed by seagrass and seaweed beds, one of the blue carbon ecosystems, came to 350,000 tons, the ministry said, adding it was the first time the ministry calculated the figure and the first attempt of its kind in the world.

Japan’s emissions surged after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster led to reactor shutdowns and heightened dependence on fossil fuels. Emissions peaked at 1.4 billion tons in 2013/14 but have since declined, helped by greater use of renewable energy and the gradual resumption of reactors.

Renewable energy accounted for 21.7 per cent of the 1.01 trillion kilowatt-hours of electricity generated in 2022/23, up 1.4 percentage point on the previous year.

Nuclear energy fell 1.3 percentage points to 5.5 per cent, while thermal power made up 72.8 per cent, flat from a year earlier.

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