Friday, April 01, 2016

This Country Is Embracing Coal While the Rest of the World Is Trying to Cut Emissions

Japan coal protest march, 2016 (Credit: Cindy Carr, Sierra Club) Click to Enlarge.
Scotland just closed its last coal-fired power plant. England said it will be coal-free in the next decade.  The United States has the Clean Power Plan, which doesn’t exactly end coal, but it puts a pretty hefty damper on it. Even China has made a series of announcements signaling they are dropping coal.

Japan, on the other hand, is planning to build 45 domestic coal plants, and the Japanese foreign investment bank is considering financing a massive project in Indonesia.  As host of the next G7 meeting and a powerful player on the international stage, Japan’s doubling down on coal is not great news for the climate — and environmentalists are wondering how long it will last.
Investment Abroad
All this coal development, added to Japan’s strong banking sector, means the country has also become a powerhouse for international coal finance.  And this, perhaps more than anything else, has drawn the ire of environmentalists.

Next week, the Japanese Bank for International Cooperation, a credit export bank, will decide whether to finance a massive, 2,000 megawatt coal-fired power plant in Batang, Indonesia.  The project is four years behind schedule, largely due to protests from the local community in central Java, according to Nicole Ghio, a senior campaign representative with the Sierra Club.

“The project is bad for the environment, bad for the climate, and bad for local communities,” Ghio said on a call with reporters earlier this week.  Her group, along with Friends of the Earth and other environmentalists, protested Thursday in front of the Japanese Embassy in Washington, D.C., seeking the attention of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in town for an international nuclear summit.

“The world is really telling Japan, it’s time for Japan to become a leader again,” Ghio said.  “They are locking in decades and decades of pollution at a time when we really can’t afford it.”

Ghio’s group is hoping that international pressure — now and at the G7 summit in Japan later this year — will help stem Japan’s coal investment.

Read more at This Country Is Embracing Coal While the Rest of the World Is Trying to Cut Emissions

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