Japan is beginning to restart some of its nuclear power plants

Japan commits to 26% emission-reduction target

Japan will aim to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 26 per cent by 2030 based on 2013 levels.

The east-Asian country said on Friday it will submit the new emission-reduction plans to the United Nations ahead of the global climate change conference that takes place in Paris in November this year.

The target is based on the government's power generation plan for 2030, which the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) finalised on Thursday.

Together with the overall reductions in the greenhouse gas emissions, the plan calls for more investment in renewable power and less reliance on nuclear energy.

It was the closure of the country’s nuclear reactors in the wake of the Fukushima disaster that spurred a substantial increase in Japan’s carbon emissions, which reached record levels last year. To make up for the loss of nuclear power, Japan was forced to to increase its fossil-fuel energy generation.

As a result, the country's emissions reached 1.41 billion metric tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent in the twelve-month period ending in March 2014. That's up 10.8 per cent from 1990 and the second-highest on record

Japan is currently the world’s fifth largest CO2 emitter.

The new emission-reduction targets are more ambitious than the 18 to 21 per cent cut promised by the United States by 2025 and the 24 per cent reduction aimed for by the European Union by 2030.

According to the plans published by Japan’s trade ministry on Thursday, the government wants to see nuclear energy making up 20 to 22 per cent of the country’s energy mix, compared to 30 per cent before Fukushima.

Renewable energy should contribute between 22 and 24 per cent to the mix, with liquefied natural gas adding a further 27 per cent and coal 26 per cent.

Japan's Federation of Electric Power Companies, whose members include the ten main power monopolies, and 25 other firms said on Friday they had voluntarily set a goal to curb CO2 emissions per kilowatt of power by 35 per cent from 2013 levels to around 0.37 kg in 2030.

By installing fossil fuel-fired plants using the best available technology, the power companies see a potential to reduce CO2 emissions by as much as 11 million tonnes a year, they said.

Last week, engineers of the Kyushu Electric Power company started loading fuel into a reactor at the Sendai Nuclear Power Plant – the first to be restarted since the Fukushima shutdown.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been pushing for the nuclear restart, arguing it is key for the country’s economic growth.


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