Japan’s government must exit coal

(Eco Business, 30 May 2019) Japan is a global investment giant and a prominent member of the international community. In the run-up to next month’s G20 summit in Osaka, it should shake itself free from entrenched lobby groups and establish itself as a world leader in the shift away from coal and toward renewables.

Following the abdication of Emperor Akihito, Japan announced that its new imperial era would be called Reiwa (“beautiful harmony”). But if the Reiwa era is to live up to its name, Japan’s government must follow the lead of the country’s energy investors and utilities, and begin to exit coal and move into renewables.

The choice between continuing to waste capital on environment-destroying coal in the coming decades and ushering in a new era of clean energy that taps Japan’s huge solar- and wind-power potential should be a no-brainer. It has been shown time and again that carbon-capture technology is nowhere near where it needs to be to deliver “clean” coal power.

Even with the highest-efficiency coal plants, we would blow past internationally-agreed emissions targets, with devastating consequences for the planet and human welfare.

But powerful Japanese lobby groups linked to the business group Keidanren continue to fight for coal. And Japan’s government seems to be bowing to the pressure: it is currently the only G7 country that is adding to its domestic coal power-generation capacity, with roughly 45 new coal plants in the pipeline as of 2017.

Moreover, Japan, along with China and South Korea, is among the biggest financiers of foreign coal projects.

External link

Eco Business, 30 May 2019: Japan’s government must exit coal