Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Monday called for the world to take “bold action” to fight climate change. “We have a responsibility to pass on a beautiful Earth to the next generation,” Suga said at an international conference on environmental issues in Tokyo.
Suga is talking the talk, but is Japan walking the walk? A day later, government officials declared that Japan would aim to generate up to 45 gigawatts of power through offshore wind power by 2040, which would make the country the world’s third-largest producer. The target is ambitious to say the least, as Japan currently generates just 20,000 kilowatts through offshore wind and is not even among the top 10 generators worldwide in that field.
Two days after that, the government said it would dismantle the two remaining wind turbines it installed off Fukushima Prefecture, citing a lack of profit from the project, which cost ¥60 billion. At a meeting in Fukushima, industry ministry officials briefed local people about the plan. Attendees accused the government of wasting taxpayers’ money and called for a study of why the project failed.
Also this week, Jiji reported that Tepco is planning to set a goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions to virtually net-zero by 2050, echoing the central government’s goal for the country as a whole. Perhaps that’s no surprise considering that Tepco — which has been under state control since the Fukushima nuclear accident — is reportedly working with the government on the plan.
How does Tepco intend to achieve net zero? Through the use of, er, offshore wind and other renewable energy sources, apparently. Oh, and the company will promote the restart of idle nuclear power plants, particularly its seven-reactor Kashiwazaki-Kariwa behemoth in Niigata Prefecture.
Turning to another plan that has been floated in domestic media, will Japan really be able to phase out sales of new petrol-fueled vehicles by the mid 2030s? And how would such a plan affect its auto sector, the pillar of the nation’s industrial might? As Kazuaki Nagata reports, the fate of hybrids under any plan could be key to whether Japan can pull it off.