Social Issues addressed by Sumitomo —Compass for the Future—

Sumitomo Corporation × Decarbonization & Local production for local consumption

Aiming for a carbon neutral society by slashing environmental impacts while securing economic growth underpinned by a next-generation energy management business

 Decarbonization
Among greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions implicated in global warming, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are a major culprit. Hence the importance of initiatives to reduce CO2 emissions in the drive to achieve net zero GHG emissions, i.e., carbon neutrality. In order to limit the global average temperature increase and achieve net zero GHG emissions in the second half of the 21st century, which are among the goals of the Paris Agreement, the Japanese government has set a target of a 26% reduction in GHG emissions by 2030 compared with 2013. In October 2020, the then-prime minister declared that Japan intends to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. Sumitomo Corporation is supporting local governments in their decarbonization efforts with knowledge, knowhow, and human resources.
 Local production for local consumption
Local production for local consumption, which means consuming local products within the region where they are produced, is attracting attention as a form of resource utilization that creates a sustainable cycle. Consuming locally produced crops within the region where they are grown eliminates the need for long-distance transportation, thus reducing CO2 emissions. In addition, the development of local communities helps realize “sustainable cities and communities,” which is one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), leading to healthier and more vibrant lifestyles. Local production for local consumption is also a way of breathing new life into regions where population aging with a declining birthrate is sapping vitality and populations are declining. Recently, with an eye to regional revitalization combined with decarbonization, there are numerous initiatives promoting industries fueled by renewable energy. Sumitomo Corporation is pursuing carbon neutrality through local production for local consumption, including by adopting hydrogen energy.

Energy is key to achieving environmental-impact-slashing carbon neutrality by 2050 while maintaining the momentum of economic growth.
Sumitomo Corporation has positioned the fostering of next-generation businesses that hasten the emergence of a carbon-neutral society at the heart of SHIFT 2023, its medium-term management plan announced in May 2021. Based on the axiom that what is required for decarbonization is a sustainable energy cycle enabling both environmental impact reduction and economic growth, in April 2021 the company established the Energy Innovation Initiative (EII), a new business organization.
To contribute to a carbon-neutral society by establishing a sustainable energy cycle and achieving decarbonization, the next-generation energy-related businesses of diverse business units have been folded into EII.
Sumitomo Corporation is focusing on three fields: 1) Developing carbon-free energy, such as hydrogen and ammonia, 2) Expanding power and energy services utilizing large-scale storage batteries, hydrogen, decentralized green power, geothermal energy, etc., and 3) CO2 capture, storage, and utilization, including forest-based environmental value creation, CCS, and carbon emissions trading.

For Sumitomo Corporation, contributing to the realization of carbon-neutral societies across the globe based on the local production for local consumption model necessarily entails not only leveraging the company’s own management resources, including human resources and intellectual property, but also wide-ranging collaboration with diverse partners. So, supporting local governments in Japan and abroad in their efforts to achieve carbon neutrality is part of EII’s mission.
For example, in January 2021 Sumitomo Corporation concluded a partnership agreement on hydrogen use and community development with Namie Town in Fukushima Prefecture, a community devastated by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. In its 2050 Zero Carbon City Declaration, Namie positions local production of hydrogen and other types of renewable energy for local consumption as a key component of recovery from the disaster. Although the catastrophe occurred more than 10 years ago and the rebuilding of infrastructure is progressing, albeit gradually, the town’s population is still only roughly 10% of its pre-disaster level. How to develop a sustainable flourishing community is a pressing issue for Namie.

Hajime Mori, Executive Officer of Sumitomo Corporation (left), and Kazuhiro Yoshida, Mayor of Namie Town in Fukushima Prefecture signed the partnership agreement online. The partners want to demonstrate their initiatives to the world as the “Fukushima model.”

Based on the concept, “A Namie-initiated energy shift that the world will want to imitate,” Namie Town and Sumitomo Corporation have joined forces to promote a transition from energy derived from fossil fuels to solar, wind and other renewable energies, not least hydrogen. Deploying its expertise for the benefit of Namie, Sumitomo Corporation’s collaboration with the town has two principal aspects: one is community development capitalizing on the use of hydrogen energy, and the other is establishment of a hub for initiatives, utilizing MIRAI LAB PALETTE, which is an open innovation lab designed and operated by Sumitomo Corporation.

Regarding the first aspect, Sumitomo Corporation will set up a multifunctional hydrogen station in the town and introduce fuel-cell mobility in the form of vehicles, bicycles, etc. to give the community “legs,” thus creating opportunities for the residents to gain real-life experience of the new value available through hydrogen use. The partners will undertake studies to evaluate the feasibility of businesses using hydrogen energy and promote tie-ups with local companies and other potential business partners. Moreover, local production of hydrogen is envisaged.
For the second aspect, Sumitomo Corporation will support Namie Town’s sustainable community development by participating from the design phase in the creation of venues and mechanisms so that people gather, pool information and exchange ideas, and take action.

MIRAI LAB PALETTE is an open innovation lab that organizes programs and events enabling people from various fields of endeavor—everything from business to culture and the arts—to meet up for stimulating interactions. It is a source of knowhow on how to make best use of both “soft” and “hard” elements in relaunching Namie Town through an integrated approach that puts the community on track to a prosperous future.

As of November 2021, 492 local governments in Japan had announced their commitment to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050, representing a population of approximately 110 million people. In December 2021, Sumitomo Corporation, Nissan Motor, and Sumitomo Mitsui Auto Service formed a partnership to support local governments in their drive to be carbon neutral by 2050. With EII in the vanguard, Sumitomo Corporation’s initiatives in support of local governments in Japan are gaining momentum.

Sumitomo Corporation is taking the initiative overseas, too. Sumitomo Australia, a subsidiary, has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to develop a hydrogen ecosystem in Gladstone, in the State of Queensland, Australia. The Australian government is working to establish a national hydrogen industry in line with its strategic objective of positioning the country as a top-tier hydrogen contender by 2030. Gladstone is a particularly promising location for hydrogen production and consumption by virtue of its existing industrial infrastructure and vigorous support from policymakers. Under the MOU, Sumitomo Corporation is partnering with Gladstone Ports Corporation (100% owned by the State of Queensland), Gladstone Regional Council, Central Queensland University, and Australian Gas Networks to conduct a feasibility study of hydrogen production and usage with a view to establishing a hydrogen-based community in Gladstone.

Sumitomo Corporation has a partnership agreement with ITM Power plc, a British manufacturer of electrolyzer systems for generating hydrogen. Running ITM Power’s multi-megawatt electrolyzer systems on renewable energy enables low-carbon production of hydrogen with virtually zero CO2 emissions.

Sumitomo Corporation views hydrogen as a key energy source for achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 and a sustainable energy cycle. Going forward, the company intends to accelerate development of diverse hydrogen-related businesses, including local production of hydrogen for local consumption, establishment of a large-scale hydrogen value chain, and development of a hydrogen ecosystem.

Sumitomo Corporation
https://www.sumitomocorp.com/en/jp
The Sumitomo Corporation Group is applying its integrated corporate strengths to great effect in multifaceted business activities that serve customers in countries and regions worldwide. “Enriching lives and the world,” the corporate message created to mark the Group’s 2019 centennial, expresses the essence of Sumitomo’s Business Philosophy. Engaged in a ceaseless quest to create new value, we are pursuing enhanced sustainability management capable of sustainable growth with society.

Social issues addressed by Sumitomo Group companies

Decarbonization

Decarbonization

Read about initiatives to achieve a low-carbon society, aiming at net-zero greenhouse gas emissions since these emissions are implicated in global warming.

Supply chain

Supply chain

In view of ongoing globalization and the growing complexity of supply chains, companies need to respond appropriately to issues in supply chains.

New workstyles

New workstyles

The pace of workstyle reform is accelerating as the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted numerous companies to embrace novel ways of working.

Health

Health

For companies, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought the crucial importance of employee health into sharp focus.

Climate Change

Climate Change

Accelerating global warming poses serious business risks. Accordingly, companies need to formulate strategies and implement specific countermeasures from a medium- to long-term perspective.

Electrification of mobility

Electrification of mobility

Spurred by efforts to reduce environmental impacts and in line with increasing social needs, replacement of gasoline-powered vehicles with electric vehicles is accelerating.

Community

Community

Vigorous initiatives are afoot to tackle social issues by revitalizing communities and the interpersonal relationships that bind them together.

Poverty

Poverty

Poverty persists in contemporary Japan and the existence of child poverty is a grave concern.

Development of the next generation

Development of the next generation

In view of the continuing decline of Japan’s working age population, due to population aging coupled with a low birthrate, development of the next generation is an urgent issue.

Advanced Medicine

Advanced Medicine

The rapid progress in medicine in recent years is largely due to the efforts of not only universities and other research institutions but also of companies to develop cutting-edge technologies.

Local production for local consumption

Local production for local consumption

Numerous initiatives to promote industry and commerce at the regional and community level are underway, involving the use of renewable energy and thus contributing to decarbonization.

Food loss and waste

Food loss and waste

One-third of food produced is lost or wasted globally, amounting to about 1.3 billion tons per year. Food loss and waste is a pressing issue in need of a solution.

Back to Social Issues addressed by Sumitomo —Compass for the Future—

PageTop