Weeks After Shaming Trump, Japan Admits Problems With Meeting Its Paris Climate Accord Pledge

REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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Japan may not be able to make the greenhouse gas emissions reductions it promised as part of the Paris climate accord just weeks after criticizing President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the agreement.

One day after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe urged G20 members to work together to implement the Paris accord, Japan’s Environment Minister Kouichi Yamamoto admitted the country still planned to use more coal power in the coming years.

In fact, companies have plans to build at least 41 new coal-fired power plants in the next decade, according to The Japan Times. Japan has increasingly relied on coal power in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor meltdown.

“If all those plants are built, it will become a major obstacle for Japan’s 2030 target to cut emissions,” Yamamoto told Reuters.

Japan currently has 17 coal-fired power plants that provide 31 percent of the country’s electricity. Completing all 41 projects would boost the total up to 58 — 3.5 times the current number.

Japan pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions 26 percent below 2013 levels by 2030. Yamamoto once again, in rather ironic fashion, expressed disappointed with Trump for withdrawing from Paris.

The Obama administration joined the Paris accord in 2016 without Senate approval, arguing the agreement wasn’t legally-binding. That move gave Trump the opening to unilaterally withdraw from the deal.

Trump announced his intent to withdraw from the Paris accord, but left the door open for renegotiation. European leaders said they would not renegotiate, but others may be more willing to let a future U.S. administration back in.

Japanese leaders hammered early June Trump’s decision, calling it “regrettable” and “extremely disappointing.”

“It’s extremely disappointing. But the withdrawal has only just been announced. If possible, I’d like to persuade the U.S. (to reconsider),” Yamamoto told The Japan Times in June.

“America’s announcement that it is pulling out of the Paris climate change agreement is regrettable,” echoed Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga.

Future coal plants will be much more efficient than the current fleet (which is already really efficient), but Yamamoto said it doesn’t matter because coal has fallen out of political favor.

“It doesn’t matter if they are highly efficient or not, power stations using coal are seen (as) outdated as (the) EU (states) and other countries are moving away from them,” Yamamoto told Reuters.

“We are against coal-fired power plants, but the issue isn’t whether we are for or against (them), but that there may come a time when they will no longer be accepted by the world at large,” he said.

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