Why are you so crazy about COAL, JAPAN?

4 December 2019

ECO can’t remember how often we have told Japan’s minister to stop coal.  The science is clear that new coal is not compatible with the Paris Agreement’s goal of 2°C, let alone 1.5°C.

Japan came to Madrid empty-handed with no policy change Ž¯ again! Even worse, just yesterday, Mr. Kajiyama, Japan’s Minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry said Japan wants to keep using coal power. Japan’s pursuit of coal expansion both domestically and internationally is totally insane. 

Japan is wasting billions of dollars on new coal plants overseas. The Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) is considering financing Vung Ang 2 and possibly Vinh Tan 3 in Vietnam. The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) continues to support coal projects such as Indramayu in Indonesia and Matabari in Bangladesh. Japan says it supports coal if it meets the conditions of using highly efficient technologies and at the request of host countries. The old narrative that these projects are cleaner than older coal plants does not stand. The projects that received Japanese public financing emit far more air pollutants than would be allowed in Japan. But, with ANY conditions, coal is coal and it is still bad.

Japan’s domestic coal expansion also poses serious problems. When the government announced plans in 2012 to build 50 coal power projects, it was a shock. But what is even more shocking is that many of these projects are still alive. 15 units are already operational, and another 15 units are under construction. Five coal plants are expected to come online in Japan next year, generating 13.4 Mt/year of new carbon emissions. These emissions will be at least four times larger than emissions from the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. 

Within the next few years, renewables will be cheaper than coal in Japan. Coal is damaging to the climate, to the economy, and to the people. Do you remember the devastating typhoons and heat waves just a few months ago? Then why can’t Japan phase out coal? Who are you protecting? 

This COP will be a moment for Japan to step up as the world’s major economy and emitter, and commit to ending coal with no exception. Japan must take a serious look at the projects in its pipeline and stop them before they are built to avoid CO2 lock-in. That is the only way to secure a safer climate and avoid further economic losses. 

Minister Koizumi, we need your leadership.

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