Regenerating a city with smart energy OCTOBER 8, 2020 REPORT

1 . International energy and environment conferences hosted by Japan

In October 2020, Japan hosted Tokyo “Beyond-Zero” Week, with six livestreamed international conferences featuring discussions about innovations that are vital to build a global roadmap to carbon neutrality and find pathways to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide emissions by going “beyond zero.”

Chart 1. Tokyo “Beyond Zero” Week Logo and international conference objectives
Chart 2. Schedule for Tokyo “Beyond Zero” Week (all events livestreamed)

Japan’s Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry led participants in wide-ranging discussions. Participants included ministerial-level government representatives from the United States, Australia, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar. They also included Dr. Faith Birol, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency, leaders from national research institutes, and top innovators from academia and industry. Below are outlines and outcomes from the Innovation for Cool Earth Forum 2020 (ICEF2020), Research and Development 20 for Clean Energy Technologies (RD20), and TCFD Summit 2020.

ICEF2020 (Concurrent Sessions were from September 28 through October 2, with the Virtual Forum taking place on October 7 and 8)

Number of registered participants: Around 1,400

  • The Steering Committee’s Statement for this forum welcomed Tokyo “Beyond Zero” Week and emphasized the need for innovative strategic approaches to accelerate the introduction of the cutting-edge technologies that will make “Beyond Zero” possible, even amid the COVID 19 pandemic.
  • ICEF 2020 participants chose the top 10 innovations from around the world anticipated to make a major contribution in the fields of energy and the environment. For ICEF 2020, the focus was on hydrogen, with three chosen from Japan.
  • For roadmaps for innovative technologies that can help transition to clean energy, the Forum focused on biomass carbon removal and storage.
Figure 3: Concurrent Session (left) and opening ceremony for virtual forum

RD20 (Technical Sessions were held from September 29 through October 2, and the Leaders’ Session was held on October 9)

Number of registered participants: approximately 1,600

  • Senior representatives of research institutes from around the world agreed on the Leaders’ Summary and discussed basic research fields. They recognized the importance of international collaboration in the development of intellectual infrastructures and human resources in the area of basic research. The leaders acknowledged the key role of RD20 as a forum that brings together research institutes from leading nations and committed to the following next steps.
  • As a host of RD20, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology of Japan (AIST) will summarize and publish abstracts about emerging trends in clean energy technology R&D submitted by participating institutions from each country in “Now & Future 2020” reports. These reports are designed to help cultivate ideas for new R&D projects.
  • AIST introduced 22 new joint R&D agreements in the field of clean energy that it plans to conclude with international research institutions.
Figure 4: Technical Session (left) and Leaders Sessions

TCFD Summit 2020 (Held on October 9)

Number of registered participants: Approximately 3,000

  • Panelists confirmed that the TCFD has moved into the start of the implementation stage.
  • They emphasized the importance of promoting funding based on the disclosure of efforts for transition, green, and innovation initiatives as an important new role for the TCFD. (Including presentations about the Climate Innovation Finance Strategy 2020 and the list of companies that have already signed up to Japan’s Zero Emission Challenge).
  • Asset owners expressed their ongoing commitment to sustainability.
  • Participants confirmed that diversity should be reflected in TCFD disclosure requirements.
Figure 5 (from left): Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Kajiyama Hiroshi, and summit panelists

2. About the Zero Emission Challenge

Increasing private sector investment is vital to drive environmental innovation. To encourage private sector investment, the Japan Business Federation is running the “Challenge Zero” project that tracks corporate innovations to decarbonize the economy in 39 key areas. Firms that participate in this project are named and highlighted both in Japan and internationally on a list of “Companies taking the Zero Emission Challenge”. This list is expected to be used by investors and lenders as a reference resource for investment and lending decision-making.

On October 9, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry announced a list of 320 publicly traded and private companies taking the Zero-Emission Challenge.

Moving forward, for each key area of environmental innovation, ICEF will hold forums for dialogue between companies taking the Zero-Emission Challenge, investors, and policymakers. The ICEF hopes that private-sector financial institutions will establish tracker funds and indices linked to these key areas of environmental innovation.

Figure 6: Logo for the exclusive use of Zero-Emission Challenge companies