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HOME  > Past issues  > 2021 October 20 - 26  > Gov't basic energy plan goes against global trend
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2021 October 20 - 26 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Gov't basic energy plan goes against global trend

October 24, 2021
Akahata editorial

The Kishida Cabinet has recently approved its medium- and long-term energy policy, the "6th Basic Energy Plan". The plan sets a goal to have coal-fired power generation, which emits an enormous amount of CO2, comprise 19% of the country's power source in fiscal 2030. This goal goes head-on against the world trend moving ahead toward decarbonization. Regarding nuclear power generation, the 6th plan will have it make up 20-22% of the total source, the same target as that of the 5th plan. It aims to increase the percentage of renewables to 36-38%, but this is still insufficient. Japan will not fulfill its responsibility to solve the problem of global warming. In order to fundamentally change the energy policy, it is necessary to replace the present government ruled by the Liberal Democratic Party and the Komei Party with a new one.

Present gov't clings to coal and nuclear power generation

The Basic Energy Plan was revised after the 5th plan made under the Abe government in 2018. The 6th plan does not change much from the 5th plan which promotes the continuation of coal and nuclear power generation. Having nearly 20% of the country's power dependent on coal-fired power generation clearly exposes Japan's stance which goes against the global trend.

Many countries are accelerating their intent to break away from promoting coal power generation in advance of the 26th Conference of Parties of the UN Framework Convention on the Climate Change (COP26) to be held in Glasgow, the U.K., on October 31. The coalition government in Germany which was established after the September general election confirmed to pursue decarbonization measures by 2030, ahead of the previous time target of 2038. Other countries, including the U.K. and France, are proclaiming that they will withdraw from coal power generation within a set time period.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report in August, stating that a drastic cut in greenhouse gas emissions in the next decade will be an important key to averting a catastrophic climate crisis.

Under this situation, the Japanese government in its basic energy plan does not set out a path towards withdrawal from coal-fired thermal power generation while promoting the construction of nine new large coal-fired thermal power plants and the export of such power generation technologies to other countries, including Indonesia. This stance is totally unacceptable. The British public broadcaster BBC revealed that regarding the IPCC draft report, Japan and several countries opposed a description appealing for the need to rapidly depart from fossil fuels and proposed the deletion of this statement. Any attempt to sabotage international efforts to tackle the current and future environmental crises facing the earth is unacceptable.

The basic energy plan presupposes a target of reducing CO2 emissions by 46% by 2030. However, this target is totally insufficient. The Japanese Communist Party in its “2030 strategy against climate change” proposes that CO2 emissions be reduced by 50%-60% from the 2010 level by 2030 and that in order to achieve this goal, the use of energy saving measures and renewables be promoted on a large scale. The strategy also seeks to close coal plants by 2030. The creation of a government serious about realizing carbon neutrality is an urgent task.

Establish a new government to achieve drastic policy shift

The basic plan designates nuclear power as an “important base-load” energy source. While avoiding mentioning the construction of new reactors in consideration of strong public criticism, the plan takes the stance to “use nuclear energy sustainably on a necessary scale”. It states that the ratio of nuclear power to total electricity generation will be 20%-22%, up 6% from the current level. This is tantamount to a declaration of promoting the reactivation of offline nuclear power plants, including those which are more than 40 years old. The business circles continue to call for building new NPPs. It is unacceptable for the government to use decarbonization as a pretext to go forward with more nuclear power generation which has the risk of causing radiation contamination and other environmental problems. In order to create a Japan which will move away from nuclear power as well as from coal power and instead push forward with an expansion of renewable energies, a change of government is vital.

Past related article:
> JCP publishes strategy to tackle climate crisis as part of platform for forthcoming general election [September 2, 2021]
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