TOKYO – Japan’s environment minister said on Tuesday the country would make efforts to reduce its dependence on coal as an energy source following criticism at a recent climate summit for its over-reliance on fossil fuels.
Shinjiro Koizumi spoke at a presser in Tokyo after returning from the COP25 Climate Summit in Madrid, where the Japanese representative faced criticism from the international community and nonprofits over Japan’s insufficient environmental goals to address climate change.
The Japanese minister said the criticism – based on the country’s continued use of coal and financing of new fossil energy plants abroad – eclipsed efforts and contributions Japan has made on many fronts regarding environmental protection.
Koizumi, 38, said Japan has been actively working to make coal plants cleaner and more efficient within its borders as well as in the technology it exports to different Southeast Asian countries.
The minister said he would encourage greater use of renewable energy and reduce dependence on coal and nuclear power but added that his powers as an environment minister were limited in this regard.
The minister, son of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi (2001-2006) and among the most promising politicians of the governing Liberal Democratic Party, said the criticism faced in Madrid would help create greater awareness on Japan’s environmental issues.
He said little attention was paid to Japan’s coal use and that there was a large gap regarding the perception in their country and other countries in this regard.
Japan, the world’s third-largest economy, is the world’s fifth-largest CO2 emitter. Following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, the country increased its coal usage and today generates more than 30 percent of its total power from it.
Japan’s government has no plans to stop using the fossil fuel, although it aims to reduce dependence by up to 25 percent by 2030. By that year it plans to increase its renewable energy use from the current 15 percent to 22-24 percent, according to the latest government strategy.
Koizumi pledged to work toward more ambitious targets, citing initiatives that are already underway, such as the one for cities to reduce CO2 emissions to zero by 2050, which involves 28 local governments – including Tokyo, Yokohama and Kyoto, among others.