Japan fleshes out Paris climate change plan

Tokyo government says emissions-cutting strategy will be approved by May, but cuts likely to hinge on future of 40 planned coal power plants

Urban smog masking the Tokyo skyline (Pic: Pixabay)

Urban haze masking the Tokyo skyline (Pic: Pixabay)

By Ed King

Japan’s hopes of meeting its 2030 climate goal rest on technology development, ramping up energy efficiency and restarting some of its mothballed fleet of nuclear power plants.

Speaking to media on Tuesday, environment minister Tamayo Marukawa said the government expects to sign off on the plan in May, which aims to slash greenhouse gas emissions 26% on 2013 levels by 2030.

“It also includes an 80% cut by 2050 as a long-term target,” said Marukawa in quotes reported by Bloomberg. “It is very significant that we can show our determination to make contributions after the Paris Agreement,” he added.

Despite a notable rise in solar capacity, future emission cuts will depend on how swiftly the country can scale back coal consumption.

Report: Japan accused of ‘sleight of hand’ in climate targets

In the wake of the 2011 Fukushima disaster Japan mothballed its fleet of nuclear reactors, relying on fossil fuel imports to meet energy demand.

But last week prime minister Shinzo Abe said these would need to be switched back on to meet energy demand.

“Our resource-poor country cannot do without nuclear power to secure the stability of energy supply while considering what makes economic sense and the issue of climate change,” he said.

Report: Japan, Germany, Korea fuelling growth of coal power

In 2014 the world’s sixth largest carbon polluter reported a 10% leap in emissions on 1990 levels as a result of a spike in coal use.

Around 40 new coal power plants are planned up to 2030, according to the Global Coal Plant Tracker.

“The main concern is measures on emissions from coal power plants,” Yukari Takamura, a climate policy expert who helped draft the climate plans told Carbon Pulse.

“Since construction of many new coal plants are planned, the government will put in place some regulatory measures but, I suppose, with quite weak enforcement.”

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