Japan’s fiscal ’13 greenhouse gas emissions worst on record


Japan’s greenhouse gas emissions rose in fiscal 2013 to the equivalent of 1.395 billion tons of carbon dioxide, its worst total since comparable data became available in fiscal 1990, according to the Environment Ministry.

Emissions over the year through last March rose 1.6 percent from a year earlier due largely to the expansion in fossil fuel-based power generation, the ministry said Thursday. Thermal power generation, which generates large amounts of carbon dioxide, has increased sharply since the 2011 Fukushima disaster began, leading to the idling of all of the nation’s nuclear power plants, which had produced about a third of its electricity.

Emissions in fiscal 2013 were up 1.3 percent from fiscal 2005 and 10.6 percent from fiscal 1990.

Since Japan has set a goal of reducing emissions by 3.8 percent by fiscal 2020 from fiscal 2005, the latest result underscores the major challenge it faces in achieving that target.

To improve the situation, a ministry official said Japan will push more energy-saving steps and maximize the use of renewable energy to reduce the use of hydrochlorofluorocarbons, which emit large amounts of greenhouse gas.

Japan’s dismal emissions record, however, has prompted the deputy leader of China’s delegates to an the ongoing U.N. conference on climate change in the Peruvian capital of Lima to call on Japan to set an ambitious goal of emission cuts beyond 2020.

Su Wei made the remarks Thursday in an interview at the venue for the so-called COP20 conference through Dec. 12.

Representatives from more than 190 countries and regions are seeking a broad agreement by the end of next year to develop a new global framework in 2020 to fight global warming.

Su said Japan should play a key role in striking a deal for the new framework, adding Beijing wants Tokyo to present an ambitious target on emission cuts and that he believes this hope is shared by all other countries across the world.

Japan has yet to decide when to present its emissions reduction target because it has yet to revamp energy policy since the Fukushima nuclear crisis began in March 2011.

In November, China announced its intention to start reducing greenhouse gas emissions after hitting a peak in around 2030. It is expected to present a concrete target by mid-2015 at the latest, Su said, adding Beijing intends to double its efforts against climate change.

Su, however, did not specify at what level the numerical target would be as it is still under discussion with research institutions and government offices.

Referring to the United States’ recent announcement of a new emission cut target, which coincided with China’s revelation of its emissions cut policy, Su said the two countries should work toward positive multinational negotiations for creating a new framework.

Meanwhile, a Japanese satellite has measured carbon dioxide concentrations in major cities and their surrounding areas across the globe except for Japan, the Environment Ministry said Thursday, adding the numbers have not yet been verified.

Japan was not covered because no sufficient data were obtained.

Once sufficient amounts of data are collected via the Ibuki greenhouse gases observation satellite, accurate estimates of global carbon dioxide emissions could be possible, ministry officials said.

An analysis of data gathered by the satellite from June 2009 to December 2012 showed that seven non-Japanese places had especially high carbon dioxide concentrations.

The Los Angeles area topped the list with a maximum average of 4.5 parts per million, followed by the area including Tianjin and Harbin in China, with 3.8 ppm, and the area including eastern Uzbekistan, with 2.6 ppm.

The analysis signals crowded places and others that are actively engaged in thermal power generation and gas field development have high carbon concentrations, the official said.

  • Starviking

    How about: “Let’s recommission as many NPPs as possible, and start building new generation plants, as well as renewable projects”?

  • Sam Gilman

    As some of us have tried to explain to the JT editorial team over the past three years, it is not the result of dark forces or freakish mind control that leads many people to argue we need to continue using nuclear power.

    It’s because climate change is a real, serious and worsening problem that threatens the lives of hundreds of millions of people, war, famine and economic chaos.

    And no, only building out renewables won’t work. Germany, going all out on renewables, has seen its emissions flatline and even rise because of their nuclear exit, while renewables installations are stalling. That this is happening is not surprising to those analysts who care enough to do the maths on electricity production.

  • Stephen Kent

    You still don’t hear much about methods to reduce carbon emissions other than changing the way electricity is produced, even after all these years. I mean, no one is really talking about introducing building standards to make homes more energy efficient or introducing daylight saving time in summer to minimise the use of artificial lighting; the whole debate seems to be predicated on accepting an ever increasing use of energy as being inevitable. A bit more effort and imagination required in areas other than generation I think.

    • Sam Gilman

      This is a good point about energy use. Measures to reduce energy use can make a good contribution. However, I would stress that they need to be more dramatic than reductions in home use, as this would be a small reduction in a small part of our overall energy use. (Domestic consumption is typically less than a third of energy use iirc, and actually stabilised in most industrial countries a couple of decades ago; heating is roughly half of that, depending on climate. A dramatic fifty per cent reduction in energy use in heating would mean 7% reduction in energy use. We need to cut emissions by 90%)

      So while energy savings are important, one of the major tasks of climate change is increased electrification: the conversion of much non-electric (ie fossil-powered) energy use to low-CO2 electricity: transport, manufacturing and so on. Even if we reduce overall energy use, we will still need more electricity – produced by low CO2 sources. We need to seriously build out wind, solar and nuclear, and do it now if not yesterday.

      • Stephen Kent

        I think you can achieve fairly drastic results with insulation, high quality building materials, and double glazing, so any regulations that made it mandatory to use these things would be a big step in the right direction I feel, as even a 7% reduction in energy use is pretty significant. Naturally, there are obstacles to this (including the nature of the housing market in Japan with its emphasis on a short build-demolish-build cycle which discourages investment in quality) and there would be resistance from lanlords, but I really feel it’s an area that Japan lags behind in.

        Yes, I know what you mean about electrification. The thing is, Japan has an excess of solar generation capacity that as things stand the national grid can’t handle. What if, instead of using the solar panels to generate electricity, they were used to split water into hydrogen and oxygen to make fuel for fuel cells? Hmmm…

      • otisdelevator

        “…I really feel it’s an area that Japan lags behind in.”

        Surely Japan needs more lagging to insulate their energy efficient housing? ;-)