Japan minister refuses to back new coal plants

Published 08:54 on November 16, 2015  /  Last updated at 08:54 on November 16, 2015  /  Asia Pacific, Japan  /  No Comments

Environment Minister Tamayo Marukawa has refused to back the construction of two new coal-fired power plants amid concerns over Japan’s ability to meet its greenhouse gas emissions target.

Environment Minister Tamayo Marukawa has refused to back the construction of two new coal-fired power plants amid concerns over Japan’s ability to meet its greenhouse gas emissions target.

Marukawa, who was appointed new environment minister in a Cabinet reshuffle last month after her ETS-supporting predecessor lost his job, told reporters in Tokyo Friday she would not back two new proposed coal plants with a combined capacity of 2,300 MW.

“I can’t endorse the projects at this point,” she said, according to Bloomberg.

Kanden Energy Solution is involved in both projects, one with Marubeni Corp. and one with TonenGeneral Sekiyu.

Marukawa has no background in energy and environment, and some NGOs had expressed concerns that the young minister might buckle under pressure from Japan’s largest utilities as they seek to put more coal-fired power online.

But like her predecessor she expressed concerns that locking in decades of new coal-fired electricity generation now would make Japan’s future GHG targets harder to meet.

Japan’s biggest industry lobby group in October met with Marukawa, asking her to cut red tape in in the approval process for new fossil-fuelled power stations.

The nation’s biggest electricity generators and distributors vowed in July to voluntarily reduce the carbon intensity of electricity to 35% below 2013 levels by 2030 as part of Japan’s overall target to cut GHG emissions 26% over the same period.

Marukawa said Friday the voluntary target lacked specific strategies, and urged the involved companies to put in more work.

The refusal came as Japan in recent weeks has reached an agreement with the United States over a proposal that would effectively ban the funding of new coal plants with the exception of those employing the most efficient technology available.

The plan will be discussed at an OECD meeting this week, but Australia and South Korea have submitted rival proposals that would allow funding less efficient plants.

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