• Kyodo

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The government launched discussions Tuesday to review current targets for its fiscal 2030 energy mix to better reflect the global trend toward reduction of carbon dioxide emissions.

The update of the medium- to long-term energy plan, conducted roughly every three years, will focus on the promotion of renewable energy as the country looks to cut dependence on fossil fuels.

Resource-poor Japan is expected to retain nuclear power as a stable energy source despite the Fukushima crisis that followed the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. The country has since imposed stricter safety standards that have slowed the restart of nuclear plants.

"I hope this panel will actively discuss how to strike a balance between environmental compatibility, economical efficiency and stable supply with safety the top priority," industry minister Hiroshi Kajiyama said during a meeting of energy experts tasked with compiling proposals.

"In considering our future energy policy, we need to fully take into account the accelerating global trend" to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, he said.

Under the current energy plan compiled in 2018, the government is aiming for renewables to account for 22% to 24%, fossil fuels, including coal and liquefied natural gas, for 56%, and nuclear power for 20% to 22% of the country's electricity generation in fiscal 2030.

In fiscal 2018, fossil fuels accounted for 77%, renewables 17% and nuclear power 6%.

Also Tuesday, Japan and the United States agreed to accelerate the research and development of technology to recycle carbon dioxide and turn it into fuel and other chemicals, as international efforts to fight global warming gain momentum.

The two countries recognize "carbon recycling as one of the future's most promising options to achieve carbon neutral or net negative carbon emissions and promote economic growth," according to a memorandum of cooperation signed between senior officials of the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry and the U.S. Energy Department.

Under the agreement, inked on the sidelines of the International Conference on Carbon Recycling held online on Tuesday, the two countries will seek to put the technology to practical use by sharing the results of research and by exchanging human resources.

Japan sees the technology involving the capture, storage, utilization and recycling of carbon dioxide as a promising solution for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and securing a stable energy source.

Carbon recycling technology could be used for various purposes, including producing jet fuels and manufacturing concrete road blocks, but most of it is still in the experimental stage, with high costs as a major reason for it failing to gain a foothold.

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