Japan - Climate

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Japan remains a leader in climate-related finance despite drops in climate funding in 2019

In 2019, Japan’s official development assistance (ODA) targeting climate change as a principal or significant goal (see box) totaled US$6.3 billion, comprising nearly half of its bilateral allocable ODA (46%), according to Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC) data. This represented a drop of 36% from 2018 (US$9.8 billion). Japan still remains the highest DAC donor for climate-related ODA in relative terms and the second highest in absolute terms.


Climate finance: funding for projects tagged in the OECD’s Creditor Reporting System (CRS) database with the Rio markers for climate change mitigation and/or climate change adaptation. Projects can be tagged with either or both markers.

Each marker has three possible scores:

  1. Principal, for projects in which climate change mitigation or adaptation is a fundamental and explicitly stated goal;
  2. Significant, for projects in which climate change mitigation or adaptation is not a key driver but still an explicitly stated goal; or
  3. Not targeted, meaning the project does not address climate change mitigation or adaptation.

Not all projects are screened against the Rio markers; this funding falls into the ‘not screened’ category.


Japan references both climate change mitigation and adaptation as priorities in its Development Cooperation Charter. In addition, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Climate Cooperation Strategy (last updated in 2016) names four priority issues:

  1. Promoting low-carbon climate-resilient infrastructure;
  2. Enhancing climate risk management;
  3. Supporting climate policy and institution building; and
  4. Enhancing forest and other ecosystem conservation and management.

Commitments made at international climate conferences and in multi-party agreements also impact Japan’s climate-related ODA policies. Of note is the ‘Actions for Cool Earth 2.0 (ACE)’ policy announced at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) in 2015. Among other actions, the policy committed Japan to provide ¥1.3 trillion (US$11.9 billion) annually in climate finance to low- and middle-income economies from public and private sources by 2020. This contributes to a collective agreement made by Japan and other high-income country parties at COP15 in 2009 to mobilize annual funds over US$100 billion by 2020.  Japan is expected to make updates or release new policies around the COP26 Summit to be held in October and November of 2021.  

Japan has also established the ‘Joint Crediting Mechanism’ (JCM), a bilateral offset mechanism that allows Japan to credit contributions of low-carbon technologies and expertise to low- and middle-income economies towards its own international emissions reduction commitments. Since establishing the JCM in 2011, Japan has signed agreements with 17 countries.

Major focus is on infrastructure and climate change mitigation; main channels include multilateral organizations

The bulk of Japan’s climate-related ODA is directed to projects in energy (44%) and infrastructure (44%), with the remaining funding directed towards other multisector (6%) and water and sanitation (5%). Due partly to Japan’s focus on low-carbon infrastructure and energy, Japan’s ODA has a heavy focus on climate change mitigation projects, which represent 88% of all climate-related ODA, as compared to climate change adaptation, which represents just 12%.

Japan delivers a portion of its climate financing through multilateral institutions, though not all of this is counted as ODA. These include the following multilaterals:

  • Green Climate Fund (GCF), to which Japan has pledged US$1.5 billion for the 2020-2023 period. This follows Japan completing its initial pledge of US$1.5 billion to GCF for the initial period of 2015-2019.
  • Global Environment Facility (GEF) Trust Fund, amounting to US$217 million in 2019. Japan has been the largest contributor to the GEF Trust Fund, contributing US$3.3 billion since the establishment of the fund in 1992. Japan’s contributions to GEF are expected to continue growing, due to its US$638 million pledge to the 2018-2022 replenishment period.
  • The Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol, amounting to US$24 million in 2019 (according to financial statements from the Multilateral Fund). Japan is the second-largest donor to this protocol which is committed to reversing the deterioration of the Earth's ozone layer.
  • United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Environment Fund, amounting to US$2 million in 2020 (according to financial statements from UNEP). Starting in 2015, Japan also started making regular earmarked contributions to UNEP, which totaled US$12 million in 2020.

MOFA, MOF, and MOE direct climate finance-related ODA; JICA and other agencies implement

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), the Ministry of Finance (MOF), and the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) all hold responsibilities for setting priorities and directing climate finance-related ODA. Within MOFA, the Global Environment Division, led by Ko Morishita, and the Climate Change Division, led by Junichiro Otaka, are primarily responsible for formulating bilateral projects. These projects are typically implemented by JICA, with Vice President Tadashi Sato responsible for projects that address climate change and the environment. Given the high number of infrastructure projects that include climate finance components, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism (MLIT) is also relevant in implementation. Additionally, MOE and the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) both implement projects credited under the JCM.

 

Unless otherwise indicated, all data in this section is based on commitment. For more information, see our Donor Tracker Codebook.