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Mitsubishi Corporation: Rice-paddy Methane Reduction Project Receives J-Credit Scheme Approval

Mitsubishi Corporation (MC) is pleased to announce that on June 28, 2023, its application to have its Rice-paddy methane-reduction project(1) registered under Japan's J-Credit Scheme(2) was approved by the certification committee of J-Credit Scheme. The project, which aims to reduce rice-paddy methane emissions by prolonging mid-season drainage periods(3), is one of MC's decarbonization initiatives.

Methane from rice paddies accounts for roughly 40% of all methane emissions in Japan. In May 2021, the country's Ministry of Forestry, Agriculture and Fisheries launched its MIDORI(4) strategy for sustainable food systems, which aims to address a wide range of challenges facing Japan's agricultural sector. One such challenge is the reduction of its methane emissions.

Methane is produced in rice paddies when bacteria in the soil breaks down organic material like rice straw and fertilizer, however it can be reduced by removing water from the paddies, which inhibits the bacterial activity. Studies have shown that by prolonging the mid-season drainage periods during wet-land rice cultivation by seven days, methane emissions from the paddies can be reduced by as much as 30%.

The objectives of MC's project are to monitor efforts by rice growers to reduce methane emissions in this manner, calculate their reduction amounts and manage the procedure to register certification of credit. This provides growers with an additional source of revenue, as the credits they earn commensurate to their reductions can be exchanged for monetary compensation.

The monitoring work will entail the construction of a support system designed to improve efficiency, taking advantage of systems like Agri-note, which was developed by MC Group company WaterCell Inc.(5) MC will also leverage the project to distribute rice produced by growers who are making genuine efforts to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, thus incentivizing farmers to be more conscious about and active in that area.

Work with cooperating growers will commence this fiscal year in some parts of the country. The hope is that over time, more growers, businesses and other interests throughout Japan's nationwide agricultural sector will be encouraged to take part in the project.

In October 2021, MC unveiled its roadmap to carbon neutrality and its aim to be a net-zero greenhouse-gas emissions company by the year 2050. It has also committed to a new growth strategy under its latest management plan, "Midterm Corporate Strategy 2024 - Creating MC Shared Value," the main objective of which is to build a brighter future by jointly promoting energy (EX) and digital (DX) transformations. Through these and other initiatives, MC remains dedicated to addressing the challenges facing modern society and industry.

MC's intention with this project is to refine its activities throughout the agricultural-products supply chain, including the distribution of rice and provision of farming support systems. By reducing greenhouse gas emissions and creating economic value, it promises to help decarbonize Japanese agriculture and invigorate regional communities.

(1) Methane is a greenhouse gas that is 25 times more potent than CO2 in terms of trapping heat in the atmosphere.
(2) The J-Credit Scheme is a carbon-credit system that has been run jointly by Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Ministry of the Environment, and Ministry of Forestry, Agriculture and Fisheries since 2013. Under the scheme, the government certifies the amounts of CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions that are reduced or removed through efforts to conserve energy, use renewables, manage forests and otherwise protect our natural resources and environment.
(3) Removing water from the paddies before the rice heading allows growers to prevent excessive offshoot (lateral shoots branching off the main root stems) and control growth.
(4) Strategy for Sustainable Food Systems - MIDORI: Policy geared towards reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, use of fossil-fuel-derived fertilizers, and other damaging environmental impacts of Japan's agricultural sector. The policy also includes initiatives to lessen harmful impacts on biodiversity, such as lowering naturally spawned catches in the fishing industry.
(5) Company engaged in the digitization, sharing and connecting of farming data, as well as the development of information platforms for producers, including the "Agri-note" farmer-support system.

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