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【The G20-More than just a Summit Meeting!】How the World Can Address Global-Level Challenges by Taking Advantage of Carbon and Hydrogen as Keys to Solutions

As the host country of the G20 (group of twenty major countries and regions) meetings in 2019, Japan intends to exhibit leadership in deliberations on global-level and other challenges at the G20 meetings. Japan considers innovations as a dynamo to overcome the challenges we face.

Carbon dioxide is not always a nuisance.

As one of its efforts for addressing global-level challenges, Japan has been advancing the carbon recycling policy, an approach to taking on the climate change issue that is derived from the idea of reversal, i.e., the idea of regarding carbon dioxide, which is the major cause of global warming, not as a nuisance but as a carbon resource. At the G20 Energy Ministerial Meeting to be held in Karuizawa Town, Nagano Prefecture, on June 15 and 16, 2019, Japan will share the roadmap for carbon recycling technologies to participating G20 member countries and call for their collaboration in carbon recycling.

As the world still considers fossil fuels as major energy resources, the topic of the effective utilization of captured carbon dioxide through a carbon recycling process is attracting the attention of many countries.

These countries are eagerly awaiting the development of advanced carbon-recycling technologies, such as: technology for producing methane, which is the main component of city gas, and other substances from captured carbon dioxide and hydrogen, by the use of catalysts; artificial photosynthesis technology for producing raw plastic materials from carbon dioxide and water by making use of photovoltaic energy and other materials; and technology for producing biofuels by supplying carbon dioxide to algae. At the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (Davos Meeting) in January 2019, Mr. Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister, mentioned before participating countries the significance of carbon dioxide, saying that carbon dioxide has the potential to be the most promising, most accessible and versatile resource in the world. If more and more countries and companies agree on this approach, R&D of these technologies will accelerate and commercialisation will become more likely.

In September 2019, Japan will also host the International Conference on Carbon Recycling, a meeting that will bring together stakeholders from industry, academia and governments from major countries. The goal is to hold enriching discussions on challenges to effectively promote innovations for Carbon Recycling.

Utilization of hydrogen as an attempt achievable only under the G20 framework

The recent G20 meetings have been discussing increasingly diverse subjects, and this has resulted in deeply intertwining the member countries’ interests and has increased the difficulty in building consensus, as seen by some opinions to that effect. Regardless, the world expects the G20 member countries to undertake international cooperation in another initiative, an attempt achievable only under the G20 framework–the promotion of hydrogen utilization.

The initiative for promoting hydrogen utilization is one key to success in energy transition and decarbonization. In line with the long-term strategies under the Paris Agreement, Japan has been advancing efforts to achieve Hydrogen Society placing hydrogen as a zero-carbon-emitting energy source. On the way to this goal, Japan considers that it will be able to contribute to the world through the dissemination of hydrogen-energy technologies.

The Hydrogen Energy Ministerial Meeting is the world’s first ministerial-level international conference mainly on the subject of hydrogen. In October 2018, at its first meeting, which was hosted by Japan, participants confirmed policies for cooperation in both promoting collaboration between countries or companies, and rulemaking including standards and regulations, as well as in other joint initiatives, in order to advance research and development involving hydrogen.

The Hydrogen Energy Ministerial Meeting consists of members of 21 countries and regions, including European countries, the United States and China, and approximately half of the member countries are G20 member countries. Given this fact, Japan believes that the series of G20 meetings this year may create momentum for the further advancement of international collaboration centered on the achievement of Hydrogen Society.

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