Japanese business lobby partners with Environment Ministry on ESG and sustainable finance

Keidanren makes string of high-level commitments around climate and social issues

Japan’s powerful business lobby has said it will promote ESG and sustainable finance in collaboration with the country’s Environment Ministry as part of a wider pledge between the two bodies to work together on decarbonisation during the Coronavirus recovery.

An announcement from the Japanese Business Federation, known in Japan as Keidanren, said it would actively promote sustainable and ESG finance and reporting, including TCFD disclosure, “in order to promote technological development and transitions that contribute to the realisation of a carbon-free society”.

Keidanren hit the headlines earlier this year when research from NGO Influence Map alleged the lobby had led a campaign to water down the EU’s sustainable taxonomy. 

In today’s announcement, however, Keidanren makes a string of high-level commitments to work closely with government, promoting initiatives including the TCFD, the Science-Based Targets initiative and RE100, which sees companies commit to 100% renewable energy. 

It also said it would “steadily implement proactive efforts to achieve Japan’s Nationally Determined Contribution”, though it didn’t give detail on what these measures would be. It said the Ministry of Environment would provide support in collaboration with other government agencies.

“Faced with two crises, the corona crisis and the climate crisis, there is a need to redesign the economy and society to make them more sustainable and resilient, creating a virtuous cycle of environment and growth,” a statement said. “In particular, the development of innovative technologies and their global dissemination are indispensable for solving climate change problems.”

This isn’t Keidanren’s first move signalling support for ESG and sustainable finance. In August, it released a report on sustainable development and investing in innovation in collaboration with Japan’s Government Pension Investment Fund and the University of Tokyo.

The report, The Evolution of ESG Investment, Realization of Society 5.0 and Achievement of SDGs, considered how ESG investing can support the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the establishment of what is referred to in Japan as Society 5.0 – “a sustainable, human-centred society” harnessing technology to achieve medium- and long-term growth and solve social problems.