TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japan announced Saturday the launch of a hydrogen supply chain with Australia as the two countries and Southeast Asian nations gathered for their first ministerial meeting on the reduction of carbon emissions in the fast-growing region.
In a video message for the meeting on the Asia Zero Emission Community framework, an initiative proposed by Japan, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said he would like to expand hydrogen supply chain networks throughout the region by cooperating further with Asian nations.
"In Asia, we should hold as many energy options as possible, and hydrogen and ammonia are options," he said, underscoring hydrogen could be a valuable source of energy in making clean energy transitions, especially in a region prone to natural disasters.
In a joint statement issued after the one-day meeting in Tokyo, a total of 11 nations joining AZEC said they "recognize that accelerating the energy transition in the Asian region is key to achieve the goals" of the Paris international accord to tackle climate change.
Japan is pitching new decarbonization technologies, such as using hydrogen and ammonia in thermal power generation and carbon dioxide capture. It has also called for carbon neutrality while securing a stable energy supply amid an energy crisis triggered by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Hydrogen and ammonia can play a significant role in cutting emissions from thermal power generation, the transportation sector and industries that heavily depend on fossil fuel, according to the Japanese government.
The bilateral hydrogen supply chain will connect the Australian state of Victoria and Kawasaki, a city located southwest of Tokyo in the Keihin industrial zone, according to Japanese officials.
In January last year, Kishida announced the Asia zero emission concept to promote regional decarbonization and cooperation in advancing the transition to clean energy.
Australia and all members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations apart from Myanmar have joined the framework. ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
China and India, the world's largest and third largest emitter of carbon dioxide, respectively, are not part of the initiative.
Japanese Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura told a press conference following the ministerial meeting that the initial focus of launching the AZEC framework is to help with energy transitions and the decarbonization of ASEAN.
He said Japan is coordinating with countries like China, India and South Korea through bilateral energy platforms toward net zero emissions. Southeast Asia is a center of economic and emissions growth, and efforts to decarbonize will have a huge impact on regional and global progress on climate action, climate and energy experts pointed out.
The East Asia and Pacific region is also critical to global efforts to fight climate change, as it accounts for a third of global greenhouse gas emissions and 60 percent of the world's coal consumption, according to the World Bank.
Participants of the ministerial meeting also agreed to promote investments in decarbonization infrastructure, including power grids for clean energy and strengthening human resources capacity in the area.