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HOME  > Past issues  > 2021 November 3 - 9  > PM Kishida's speech at COP26 goes against global decarbonization efforts
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2021 November 3 - 9 TOP3 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

PM Kishida's speech at COP26 goes against global decarbonization efforts

November 5, 2021

Akahata editorial

Prime Minister Kishida Fumio delivered a speech at the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) Summit in Glasgow, Scotland. He did not indicate a departure from coal-fired thermal power generation which emits vast amounts of CO2. He spoke in line with the Japanese government's 6th Basic Energy Plan to have coal-fired power comprise 19% of the country's power source in fiscal 2030. His address met with severe criticism from international environmental NGOs, and Japan again received a "Fossil of the Day" award for its weak measures to tackle climate change. Japan's stance of reneging on the responsibility to overcome the global climate emergency is unacceptable.

Japan continues relying on coal-fired power

In order to effectively deal with the climate crisis, it is necessary to restrain the increase of global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. To achieve this, the world must halve greenhouse gas emissions within the next decade and aim to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. The United Nations requires developed countries to abolish coal-fired power generation by 2030.

The secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) warns that even if all countries meet their emission reduction targets as promised, the global average temperature will rise by 2.7 degrees Celsius by the end of this century unless all governments aim at further reductions.

During the Summit, leaders of island nations experiencing rising sea levels due to global warming spoke about their severe situations. The president of Seychelles said, "We are already grasping for survival," and "my country’s granitic islands will lose all economic activities." No time should be wasted in cutting CO2 emissions further and ending coal-fired power.

PM Kishida in his address did not say that Japan will step up its own countermeasures to deal with global warming. He instead said that Japan will pursue a coal-fired power project in Asia, using ammonia- or hydrogen-firing technologies. However, it is still unclear when and if these technologies will be available for practical use.

The necessity of developing new technologies to contribute to a drastic CO2 reduction cannot be denied. However, the continuous dependence on coal-fired power generation based on the development of such technologies which are yet to be developed will slow the pace of CO2 reduction. The closure of all coal-fired power plants will not be achieved by 2030.

The use of hydrogen and ammonia co-firing technology at coal-fired power plants will change nothing because this technology allows the burning of a large amount of coal. The Climate Action Network (CAN), a global NGO which gave Japan the Fossil of the Day Award, pointed out that Japan blindly believes that thermal power generation using ammonia and hydrogen can serve as a zero-emission thermal power.

In order to reduce CO2 emissions drastically in a short period of time, the need is to immediately take steps toward CO2 reduction with the use of available and proven technologies.

Germany’s new government plans to change its deadline for achieving carbon neutral from 2038 to 2030. Many countries have their own deadlines for withdrawing from coal-fired power such as 2024 for the U.K. and 2022 for France. Japan’s stance totally runs counter to the world trend and harms international efforts to tackle climate change.

Major reform is political responsibility

Japan’s target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 42% by 2030 from the 2010 level falls below the world’s average. A 50-60% reduction is a must. This can be quite feasible with a cut in energy consumption by 40% and an increase in the share of renewables in electricity generation by 50%.

CO2 emitted from power plants accounts for 40% of the total CO2 emissions in Japan. Ending coal-fired power generation is of vital important. It is imperative that the government take the responsibility to deal effectively with the urgent task of decommissioning nuclear power plants and drastically revising the nation’s energy policy.
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