The world needs Asia to address climate change — if not, net-zero emissions will be out of reach, the CEO of a Japanese beverage giant said this week.

Asia plays an important role in addressing climate change, Suntory CEO Takeshi Niinami said, speaking to CNBC as part of the virtual Sustainable Future Forum.

“Unless Asia makes all effort to tackle sustainability issues, the world will not be able to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050,” he said. “Asia is the key for the world to achieve the 2050 goal.”

Carbon neutrality is achieved when there’s a net-zero release of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases into the atmosphere because an equal amount of emissions has been removed.

Under the 2015 Paris climate agreement, countries aim to reach peak greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible so that they can reach carbon neutrality by 2050.

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Niinami said the region was “left out” when rules and standards on climate goals were established.

“The rules made by or shaped by the west are not accurately applied to Asia,” he said, noting that there are “huge differences” between various countries in the region.

Suntory is part of the Sustainability Leaders Council, an effort to advance sustainability in Asia.

Climate goals

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