National

Japan bags satirical 'Fossil of the Day' prize for clinging onto coal-fired power

Kyodo

Japan was one of three countries to receive a satirical “Fossil of the Day” award this week from an international environmental group after the country’s industry minister voiced a plan to continue using coal-fired power, one of the top causes of global warming.

The nongovernmental organization, Climate Action Network, announced the recipients of the award — Japan, Australia, and Brazil — on Tuesday at the venue of the U.N. climate change conference, COP25, in Madrid.

Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshi Kajiyama “snubbed the international community and the Paris Agreement,” as the world shifts toward coal-free power, the NGO network said in a statement.

“Instead of showing a commitment to multilateralism and the climate, minister Kajiyama showed commitment to destroying the planet and putting people in danger,” it said.

On Tuesday, Kajiyama told a news conference in Tokyo, “As options (for an energy mix) we would like to keep coal-fired power plants and power plants using fossil fuels.”

The United Nations had urged Japan in a report last month to halt the construction of new coal-fired plants and to gradually abandon existing ones amid a global trend toward renewable energy.

Coal-fired power plants were singled out as the largest contributor to the growth in emissions observed in 2018, according to the International Energy Agency.

Japan’s reliance on fossil fuels for power generation has increased as most of its nuclear power plants remain idle following the 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima Prefecture, which was triggered by a massive earthquake and tsunami.

Kajiyama also said at the news conference that the government would make an effort to increase renewable energy and reduce carbon dioxide emissions as it pushes the development of technology.

The fossil award is presented almost daily during the climate conference and Tuesday was the first day it was awarded during the current event.

Brazil and Australia received the award for their handling of large-scale rainforest fires and bushfires.