Jul 27, 2022

Sponsorship & Events / Feature Story

Technology for a Sustainable Society

Advancing the Discussion on Reducing Carbon Emissions

On July 13, the Panasonic Group held its second sustainability management briefing followed by a panel discussion on the responsibility of reducing carbon emissions. In the opening session, Group CEO Yuki Kusumi announced the release of the Group's GREEN IMPACT PLAN 2024 (GIP2024), a milestone towards the 2030 and 2050 goals established in its broader long-term environmental vision, Panasonic GREEN IMPACT (PGI).

CEO Kusumi outlined the actionable steps and targets to be achieved by the Group by 2024 as part of the GIP2024. He also explained Panasonic's bold targets to reduce CO2 emissions from its own operations to virtually net-zero towards 2030 and the Group's ambition to contribute to global avoided emissions by a total of 300 million tons by 2050, equivalent to 1%* of the whole world's global emissions. The importance of avoided emissions should not be overlooked, and he advocated for its standardization as a metric to measure companies' contributions to the reduction of CO2 emissions.
*300 million tons from total global emissions of 33.6 billion tons (Source: IEA).

Photo: From left to right: Satoko Ito, Shinichi Kihara, Tatsuo Ogawa, Motoshige Itoh, Emi Onozuka

From left to right: Satoko Ito, Shinichi Kihara, Tatsuo Ogawa, Motoshige Itoh, Emi Onozuka

A lively panel discussion followed in the second session with experts from academia, government and industry taking part. Moderated by freelance newscaster Satoko Ito, the panel convened on the topic of corporate, social, and government responsibility in reducing carbon emissions and the potential approaches towards achieving a carbon neutral society. Panelists included Motoshige Itoh, Professor Emeritus, The University of Tokyo, Shinichi Kihara, Deputy Director-General for Environmental Affairs, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), and Emi Onozuka, President and CEO, Eminent Group, Inc. They were also joined by Panasonic Group CTO Tatsuo Ogawa.

Company plans, regulation, and leveraging the market: Three complimentary approaches to reducing CO2 emissions

Professor Itoh kicked off the discussion with his remarks on the different approaches to reducing emissions noting that companies are creating plans that are suitable for their businesses and governments around the world are also drafting and implementing appropriate regulations. He commented that a third approach of equal importance is leveraging the market, giving the examples of carbon pricing and sustainable financing. He raised the need for "creative destruction" - the dismantling of long-standing practices to make way for new ideas and innovation to square the circle of reducing carbon emissions but maintaining business growth. Finally, he noted two important keywords for companies in their efforts to mitigate climate change: "responsibility", and "contribution" i.e., the responsibility to reduce CO2 emissions and contributing new technology to society.

Photo: Motoshige Itoh, Professor Emeritus, The University of Tokyo

Motoshige Itoh, Professor Emeritus, The University of Tokyo

Photo: Shinichi Kihara, Deputy Director-General for Environmental Affairs, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI)

Shinichi Kihara, Deputy Director-General for Environmental Affairs, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI)

Weighing in on government policy, Shinichi Kihara, Deputy Director-General for Environmental Affairs, METI, introduced Japan's efforts to reduce carbon emissions. Since the government announced its plans to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, they have introduced three significant policies: the Green Growth Strategy, a long-term vision for technological innovation, the Basic Energy Plan, which sets out to achieve a reliable energy mix by 2030 and the interim Clean Energy Strategy released in May this year, which outlines how the government will achieve these goals over the next 30 years. He introduced the government's GX League Basic Concept, a cross-industry platform where government, academia, and finance collaborate to advance GX (Green Transformation), which is also endorsed by Panasonic. He emphasized the importance of companies' own efforts and noted that the GX League focuses on corporate-led rulemaking.

Photo: Emi Onozuka, President and CEO, Eminent Group, Inc.

Emi Onozuka, President and CEO, Eminent Group, Inc.

Emi Onozuka, President and CEO, Eminent Group, Inc. spoke on the importance of setting global standards in reducing emissions that can act as a "common language" towards the reduction in CO2 emissions. She also highlighted sustainable financing as a significant evolution from the narrower focus of ESG investing and the importance of broader corporate society to understand decarbonization.

Avoided emissions as a key pillar to sustainability

Panel discussion participants spoke from their own differing areas of expertise but a key shared theme that emerged from the discussion was the importance of recognizing so-called "avoided emissions", i.e., emissions reductions achieved through adoption of a company's products or services.

Mr. Kihara spoke about the advances Japanese companies are making in contributing to global CO2 emissions reductions through cutting emissions from products and services that they provide. However, he points out that this is not being recognized because the emissions reductions achieved are attributed to the companies and/or people that procure the services. Furthermore, as companies must expend considerable resources into developing solutions that lead to products and services with much lower CO2 emissions, this could temporarily increase their emissions. Therefore, achieving a standard measure for avoided emissions is a key pillar of the government's GX League Basic Concept.

An illustrative example of the unintended impact of not recognizing avoided emissions was raised in the case of the replacement of lightbulbs at Japan's Hanshin Koshien Stadium. By introducing Panasonic lightbulbs, an emissions reduction of 60% was achieved. Although considerable effort was expended in researching and developing the environmentally friendly LED technology, no portion of the resulting reduction in emissions is attributed to Panasonic under current reporting standards. Panasonic's Tatsuo Ogawa echoed these sentiments noting the importance of creating a system that duly recognizes legitimate efforts made by companies towards the reduction of CO2 emissions to incentivize companies to prioritize the development of sustainable goods and services.

The importance of international cooperation

Panelists also agreed on the importance of global standards and international cooperation towards tackling the mutual issue of global emissions reduction, with some noting the value of Japanese companies not only passively accepting global standards, but actively making a case for certain standards themselves. For example, Ms. Onozuka commented that avoided emissions should be included in global standards of emissions' reductions and that a shared understanding of this concept would improve overseas investment into Japan and allow for international comparisons to be made.

The Panasonic Group would like to thank the participants in the panel discussion for their valuable contributions to this vital dialogue.

With the release of its GREEN IMPACT PLAN 2024, and the holding of this panel discussion, the Panasonic Group is demonstrating its commitment to solving the critical issue of climate change. You cannot make an impact without ACTs and through an accumulation of ACTs, Panasonic will work with society, expand its various contributions to reducing CO2 emissions, and achieve carbon neutrality.

Photo: Slide: 'Avoided emissions as a measure of contributions towards carbon neutrality'

Slide: "Avoided emissions as a measure of contributions towards carbon neutrality"

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