Japan's energy plan is not all that green

2015-06-06 12:07

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Tokyo - Japan may find itself the odd man out when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe presents his government's blueprint for combating climate change at this weekend's summit of the world's leading industrialised democracies.

The Group of Seven host, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, has indicated she supports a pledge of eventual zero carbon emissions. Japan favours coal, gas and nuclear power over green energy despite rapid growth of investment in renewables since all its nuclear reactors were taken offline following the 2011 disaster in Fukushima.

Carbon emissions

Curbing global warming will be among many items on the agenda when G-7 leaders meet at Schloss Elmau, about 100km south of Munich on Sunday and Monday.

Japan is the world's No 3 economy and its fifth-largest emitter of greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. Abe plans to explain to fellow leaders its target of a 26% reduction from 2013 levels of carbon emissions by 2030.

That compares with an intended 26-28% cut by 2025 from 2005 levels for the US and the European Union's target of a 40% reduction from 1990 levels, or 35% from 2005.

Japanese officials defend their plan as comparable to or even exceeding the goals set by other major economies.

Solar panels

As for zero emissions, the world's carbon dioxide pollution level hit a record 396 parts per million in 2014, way above the 350ppm level of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere seen by some scientists and environmental groups as a safe level.

Japan's long-term energy plan is evolving and actual trends will depend on various factors, including nuclear plant restarts, the pace of decline in the population, changes in technology and expanded use of solar panels and other renewable energy by households and businesses.

The country does face unique challenges, as an island nation with scant conventional energy resources. Unlike European countries, it cannot draw from and feed into regional electricity grids.

Read more on:    germany  |  environment  |  climate change  |  pollution

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