Japan Emission Reduction Challenges

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Leading Emission Reduction Challenges: (a) Dependence on fossil fuels as energy sources; (b) Changing peoples’ behavior


Current Greenhouse Gas Emission Levels

Total emissions in FY2014 were 1365 Mt CO2 eq, a 3.0 % decrease compared to those of FY2013; and a 7.5 % increase compared to FY1990. Total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions increased 2.7% between 2011 and 2012and 1.3% between 2012 and 2013. With a long-term view, the emissions are slightly increasing.

Emission Reduction Challenges

After the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, Japan’s energy plan which had focused on nuclear power was reconsidered. Since all nuclear power plants had stopped just after the earthquake, fossil fuels have accounted for the most of the electricity supply. This switch from nuclear power to fossil fuels has steadily increased the carbon emissions in Japan. (The use of nuclear power is very controversial.)

The Basic Energy Plan (2014) describes nuclear power and fossil flues as “base-load power sources.”  The government’s aim of the share of electricity provided by renewable energy is only 22-24% in Long-term Energy Supply and Demand Outlook (2015), which may be insufficient to transform Japan to a low carbon society.

Because of very limited energy resources, Japan has relied on imported resources. After the Oil Crises, and in order to gain energy security, Japan has struggled to reduce its dependence on oil. In 2010, the ratios of oil power generation was less than 10% and those of coal, gas and nuclear are 25%~27% each. After the Fukushima accident, almost all of the nuclear power plant ware not in operation and about 90 % of power generation comes from fossil fuels.

The Japanese Government has developed mid and long-range plans for reducing its current dependence on fossil fuels. Between now and 2030 the plan focuses on the development of clean coal and LNG thermal power technologies, an area where Japan has a strong technological advantage. After 2030, the plan calls for a focus on carbon capture and storage and hydrogen technologies. The Government also will try to restore the confidence of its people in the safety of nuclear power plants.

Submitted by Climate Scorecard Country Manager Kenta Matsumoto

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