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90% of utilities fail to meet carbon dioxide reduction targets

Kyodo

Nine of the nation’s 10 utilities failed to meet their self-imposed five-year targets for reducing carbon dioxide emissions by an average of 20 percent, an industry body said Monday.

Their failure was caused mainly by the Fukushima nuclear disaster, which forced them to revert to thermal power generation after the March 11, 2011, Great East Japan Earthquake triggered the shutdown of virtually all of the reactors in Japan.

The goal of the 2007 project was to cut emissions of the main greenhouse gas by 20 percent from their levels in 1990, by fiscal 2012.

The nine utilities, all basically regional monopolies, are Tohoku Electric Power Co., Hokuriku Electric Power Co., Shikoku Electric Power Co., Hokkaido Electric Power Co., Tokyo Electric Power Co., Kansai Electric Power Co., Kyushu Electric Power Co., Chubu Electric Power Co., and Chugoku Electric Power Co.

The only one that succeeded was Okinawa Electric Power Co., which doesn’t even have a nuclear power plant.

Based on a tally from the Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan, the combined carbon dioxide reduction rate of Japan’s 10 utilities, including Okinawa Electric, stood at only 2.6 percent.

Thanks to emissions trading, however, Japan is still likely to have achieved its target of cutting carbon dioxide emissions by 6 percent from 1990 levels within the five-year period until fiscal 2012, as required by the Kyoto Protocol.

With utilities accounting for around a third of Japan’s total industrial emissions, the degree to which power companies can improve is likely to affect Japan’s measures for battling global warming.

Greenhouse gas emissions actually rose by 3.2 percent to 4.9 percent at Tohoku Electric, Hokuriku Electric and Shikoku Electric, while Hokkaido Electric, Tokyo Electric, Kansai Electric and Kyushu Electric only managed cuts between 0.8 percent and 5.1 percent.

Chubu Electric, which is not as reliant on nuclear power, cut emissions by 12.9 percent and Chugoku Electric achieved a reduction of 13.4 percent.

All but two of Japan’s 50 nuclear reactors remain offline following the Fukushima nuclear crisis.

Aware that meeting the targets would be difficult, the utilities themselves were set to take advantage of overseas emissions trading but were unable to do so due to a lack of funds and poor business performance.