Japan, once a leader on climate, under fire for coal use at COP26 By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Basic view exhibits JERA’s Hekinan thermal energy station in Hekinan, central Japan October 18, 2021. REUTERS/Yuka Obayashi

By Aaron Sheldrick and Yuka Obayashi

TOKYO (Reuters) – Greater than 20 nations agreed to part out coal energy on the U.N. local weather talks in Glasgow, however not Japan – a “leap backwards” for a rustic that when led the way in which on the Kyoto Protocol to scale back greenhouse fuel emissions.

The pact was amongst a raft of pledges made on the COP26 summit within the final week. Japan, the world’s third-biggest importer of the dirtiest fossil gasoline, declined to signal as a result of it wanted to protect all its choices for energy technology, officers mentioned.

Critics referred to as that short-sighted, at the same time as new the prime minister, Fumio Kishida, has agreed to step up different environmental measures.

“Regardless of Prime Minister Kishida pledging to direct elevated funding to local weather finance, we’re disenchanted that he failed to deal with the elephant within the room – Japan’s dependency on coal,” mentioned Eric Christian Pedersen, head of accountable investments at Danish fund supervisor Nordea Asset Administration.

The criticism highlights the shift in Japan’s circumstances. It led local weather change efforts in the course of the Nineteen Nineties Kyoto Protocol period, however has been burning extra coal and different fossil fuels after the Fukushima catastrophe 10 years in the past left many nuclear crops idle.

GRAPHIC: Japan’s electrical energy combine by supply since 1985

Not phasing out coal has “positioned Japan to take a leap backwards by signalling thermal energy crops can maintain operating primarily based on new applied sciences that don’t exist,” mentioned Kiran Aziz, head of accountable investments at KLP, Norway’s largest pension fund.

China, the world’s largest supply of local weather change-fuelling gases, didn’t signal the pact and President Xi Jinping didn’t attend the convention. The nation has mentioned it will cut back its use of coal for electrical energy by 1.8 % over the subsequent 5 years.

Japan has pledged billions of {dollars} for susceptible nations and to assist constructing infrastructure in Asia for renewables and cleaner-burning fuels. It has additionally reduce targets for coal use and raised these for renewables.

“In Japan, the place assets are scarce and the nation is surrounded by the ocean, there is no such thing as a single good power supply,” Noboru Takemoto, an business ministry deputy director, instructed Reuters. “Because of this, Japan doesn’t assist the assertion” on coal.

The ministry mentioned final 12 months it will speed up shutdowns of coal-fired crops by 2030, later setting minimal effectivity requirements and requiring firms to submit annual updates on phase-outs.

However firms are resisting such plans, a senior govt at a serious Japanese generator mentioned.

“It’s being delayed and dragged out as a result of lots of firms are saying these items nonetheless work and are cheaper,” the chief mentioned, including that “a management push is required.”

A Reuters survey of Japanese firms working outdated coal energy items, together with Hokuriku Electrical Energy and Hokkaido Electrical Energy, confirmed that the majority of them haven’t determined schedules to close them down.

Hokuriku Electrical plans to close only one 250-megawatt coal unit in 2024, a spokesperson instructed Reuters,

“Our coal-fired thermal energy crops play an vital function,” in sustaining secure electrical energy provides, the spokesperson mentioned.

Hokkaido Electrical, which shut two coal items in 2019, has no closings deliberate, whereas the opposite 5 firms surveyed mentioned they haven’t any agency proposals. Some are taking a look at utilizing cleaner fuels, corresponding to ammonia, to burn with coal and different applied sciences to maintain them working extra cleanly.

“For professional-coal company Japan, what’s extra vital is enterprise, not the planet,” mentioned Mutsuyoshi Nishimura, a former senior Japanese authorities official and chief local weather change negotiator. “It is unhappy to see there is no such thing as a imaginative and prescient for a greater, extra sustainable and extra aggressive Japan.”

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