At climate talks, Japan's Koizumi confronts critics over coal

(Reuters News, 11 Dec 2019) "We can't make an announcement of phasing out coal or fossil fuels right away but will keep considering options going forward," says Shinjiro Koizumi.

Japanese environment minister Shinjiro Koizumi said on Wednesday that global criticism of his country's "addiction to coal" was hitting home, but warned he had yet to win wider government buy-in for his hopes of weaning the country off fossil fuels.

In an unusually frank acknowledgement by Japan of growing disquiet over the country's financing of new coal-fired power plants, Koizumi, tipped as a future prime minister, told U.N. climate talks in Madrid that he was pushing for change.

"Of course I am aware of global criticism, including on our coal generating policies," Koizumi, 38, said in his speech to the conference, saying that as a millennial and father to-be he shared growing worldwide fears over climate change.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who opened the two-week talks on Dec 1., has urged countries to stop building new coal plants after 2020 as part of a wider drive to meet the temperature goals in the 2015 Paris Agreement.

Japan, a big financier of new coal plants in southeast Asia, is seen as an outlier among industrialised countries since it is the only G7 nation to still be building coal plants at home.

"Last week, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for stopping our addiction to coal. I took this as a message to Japan," Koizumi said.

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Reuters News, 11 Dec 2019: At climate talks, Japan's Koizumi confronts critics over coal