Japanese Government to Host AZEC Summit; Aiming to Strengthen Ties with ASEAN for Decarbonizing Asia

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Prime Minister’s Office

The government will hold the first summit of the Asia Zero Emissions Community (AZEC) on Dec. 18 to promote decarbonization in Asia, and is making final arrangements with a view to hold regular annual ministerial meetings.

Leaders are also set to confirm the establishment of a command post for decarbonization efforts and the creation of a committee of experts. With China in mind, Japan aims to strengthen cooperation on global warming countermeasures with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

AZEC is a framework for cooperation with other countries to achieve decarbonization and economic growth in Asia. Eleven countries are taking part in the framework, including Japan, Australia and nine ASEAN member countries. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida proposed the creation of the framework in his policy speech in January last year.

The AZEC summit will be held in Tokyo in conjunction with the ASEAN-Japan Commemorative Summit, which starts on Dec. 16. Kishida and the leaders of the nine ASEAN countries will attend. Arrangements are being made for the Australian Prime Minister to participate online.

Asian countries emit about 60% of the world’s CO2 emissions, and many along with Japan use power generated by coal. Japan has been criticized by environmental groups and others for its reliance on coal. The government aims to achieve both economic growth and decarbonization in Asia by leveraging its knowledge of renewable energy and energy conservation, as well as its technology for generating electricity by mixing hydrogen and ammonia, which do not emit CO2 when burned, with fuel.

At the summit, leaders are expected to agree on a roadmap for diverse and realistic decarbonization that takes into account the circumstances of each country, and a joint statement is expected to be issued. They will also confirm the establishment of the Asia Zero Emissions Center in Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, to serve as a command post for AZEC.

The leaders are also set to confirm the establishment of a committee of experts that will be responsible for sending delegations and providing advice to support these efforts. Keidanren (Japan Business Federation), the ASEAN Business Advisory Council, and the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia will be involved in establishing the committee.

While China is increasing its market share in the fields of electric vehicles and solar power generation, Japan aims to take the lead in establishing fair and sustainable international standards and in infrastructure development through AZEC.

The joint statement is also expected to include the need for bio-derived biomass power generation and the use of small modular reactors, which are considered safer than conventional nuclear power plants, in order to increase sources of energy amid the tense situation in Ukraine and the Middle East.