Japan is pushing forward with plans for 47 new coal power plants, despite falling coal use across the G7, setting itself at odds with its economic brethren.
A new report published earlier this month by climate diplomacy and energy policy analysts E3G includes its latest G7 coal scorecard, which shows clearly just how contrary to its fellow members of the G7 Japan is placed.
Though the scorecard does not read well for most members of the G7, there is good news in parts — with an additional 4 GW of proposed new coal plants scrapped across the G7, leaving Japan as the only member country actively seeking to build new coal capacity.
“The progress since our last assessment is startling,” said Chris Littlecott, Programme Leader at E3G. “Coal power capacity is rapidly coming off the system in the UK and the USA. Other G7 members recognise that coal-fired generation is an old and dirty technology, not fit for the 21st century. In the last six months the UK and Alberta have both announced coal phase out policies to enable a managed transition to clean electricity. This makes Japan’s defiant pursuit of new coal plants an increasingly isolated position.”
E3G is not the only one which has recently highlighted Japan’s counter-global coal plans. A report published earlier this month by the Sustainable Finance Programme at the University of Oxford’s Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment found that Japan’s future expanded-coal fleet could end up stranding $56 billion.
This compares startlingly with recent news out of the UK which saw electricity generated from coal fall to zero for the first time since the first coal-fired generator opened in London back in 1882!
“Japan’s weak emissions reduction target and planned coal investments put it out of step with a world that is quickly moving low carbon,” added Taylor Dimsdale, Head of Research at E3G. “It is wasting its considerable advantages both in diplomacy and in clean energy technology. Japan should use the G7 summit to re-emerge as a leader on climate change.”
In total, across the G7, 40 GW of existing coal plants have been added to the retirement pipeline, pushing the total coal planned for retirement up to 165 GW.
Across the G7, most countries are implementing new policies and measures to transition away from coal. The UK, Canada, and Germany all improved their scores according to the latest G7 coal scorecard, while the US remained at the top.
Numerous highlights from across the G7 confirm the hope that the coal transitioning is accelerating, although to varying degrees in each G7 country. The UK Government has committed to ending coal use in power generation by 2025, with 5 GW of coal plants already closed this year, and more to follow. Canada’s province of Alberta has similarly committed to ending coal use in power generation by 2030, which is big news considering that Alberta is home to half of Canada’s remaining coal plants. Germany, France, and Italy are all further down the scale, with their scores reflecting policy maneuvering at home.
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