Climate action knows no age – An interview with Tsukamoto Yuhei

On the 8th of September, people from all around the world took part in the Rise For Climate march held in their respective countries. In Bangkok, demonstrators demanded their respective governments to end the use of fossil fuels and transition to using clean energy. Among all the speakers, Tsukamoto Yuhei was one of the youngest to speak for climate justice. I had the chance to have a chat with him.

Tsukamoto Yuhei at the United Nations ESCAP, Bangkok

 “First, we need a fossil free society because when it happens, it will lead to decarbonisation that will stop air pollution and catastrophic climate change. In particular, dirtiest coal must be kept underground right now, and forever. Second, we need a one-hundred percent renewable energy society because it is the only solution for fair and sustainable energy society. Unfortunately, the reality is that governments including Japan, companies and multilateral developing bank and massive financial groups have enormously promoted and invested for coal projects in Asian countries where we are living. What we really need is just transition to 100% renewable energy society.”

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?

My name is Yuhei Tsukamoto. Just call me Yuhei. I am a graduate student at the Kyoto University in Japan. I am also doing an internship at Climate Action Network (CAN) Japan. I have been doing my internship for a year. My main activity in CAN Japan is to tackle coal-fired power plant problems and also to expand the renewable energy, especially solar power and also wind power generation. I also provide consultation to the local government and the company as well. I have been to COP 22 and COP23. COP 22 was my first COP. At that time, I was with Climate Youth Japan (CYJ), which consists of mainly students, mostly Japanese. It is like a Japanese youth delegation.

What is your role here in Bangkok, and what are your expectations?

My role here is as a translator for ECO articles from English into Japanese. I am also here to write blogs, lots of articles. I write 6 articles in a day, about lots of different topics. Some are technical ones from negotiations, some are general ones, such as climate accidents happening in Japan.

I am currently tracking item 3 of APA. I am focusing on item 3 because I am into mitigation, as my research in my graduate school is about wind power plant, so it is related to mitigation and also NDCs. The reason why I am tracking this is because my main interest is near to this topic.

I think it is a pretty difficult question to answer. Well, the core of this session is to have an effective facilitation for the Paris Agreement Work Programme. I can’t really show a clear expectation to the conference, but in terms of item 3, I hope that it is going to be cleared and a robust integration will be reached by the end of this session.

What would you want people to know about climate change?

Well, this is pretty much related to my main activity in Japan. I think first of all, people should know the crisis of climate change. As you may already know, heat waves, typhoon, deforestation or something like that. People should know that.

In my country, there has been less impact of climate disasters, to be honest, perhaps due to the resilient infrastructures in Japan. I am pretty sure Japanese people are going to be facing massive climate crisis in the near future, therefore people should take action right now for the future generation. My point is, I’d like people to know how climate change is scary.

I would also like to tell people to take as much action as possible. From a micro scale, people can turn off the lights when not in use, lower air conditioner usage and try not to use too much water. In a macro scale, people can advocate to the government which are strongly connected to greenhouse gas emissions, like how NGOs are holding workshops regarding climate change. Participating in events to understand why and what are happening in negotiations also helps. We have to know what our responsibilities are for the future generations.

Can you tell me one thing interesting about yourself?

About myself? This sounds like a tricky question for job hunting (laughs). I’ll tell you about my hobby. I am doing triathlon, one of the toughest sport in the world. It consists of swimming, biking and running. I think it is pretty weird to call it a hobby, but yeah, it is my hobby. So, I practice every day, in the morning or after work, in terms of running and swimming. I run for at least 10km every day, and swim 1km every day. In my opinion, robustness is very important. That is also the case with climate negotiations. Because we have to take action for a long period of time, and it lasts not just for a year. To tackle climate change, we need constant effort. That applies to many things, not only sports or tackling climate change. You need that to play music well, for anything really. Besides, I also play the saxophone in a band, sometimes solo. As you may know, there are several types of saxophone. In my case, I play the tenor saxophone. I like listening to the orchestra, but I definitely prefer jazz bands.

Edited by Kitty Chen

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