Environment

Japan’s Nuclear Policy Not on Target: Greenpeace Warns Angela Merkel

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Tokyo- (PanOrient News) The Japanese government will not meet its future carbon reduction targets if it continues to base its energy mix on a significant share of nuclear power, Greenpeace warned today. The organization has urged Chancellor Merkel to promote the German Energy Transition (Energiewende) during her visit to Japan from March 8th-10th.

Chancellor Merkel is attempting to secure national climate change commitments from Japan and other Group of Seven nations ahead of the G7 summit to be held in Germany in June, according to a press release from Greenpeace that noted the Abe government has yet to make a national climate commitment, as it has so far failed to announce its energy share for 2030. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) is currently deliberating a 15-25% nuclear target and a 20% renewable target by 2030, with a decision to be reached before the G7 summit. But it is unrealistic for Japan to attain such a share from nuclear power in the coming years.

Currently, all 48 nuclear reactors in Japan are shutdown and 21 reactors are presently under review by the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA)due to the impact of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, which began four years ago. If all of these 21 reactors were operated, they would generate approximately 14% of the nation’s projected output in 2030. To reach a 20% nuclear target, it would require at least ten additional reactors to be operated, including all of TEPCO's Kashiwazaki-Kariwa reactors. However, nuclear power plants in Japan have major safety issues that remain unresolved and they are also subject to strong public opposition and lawsuits.

Reaching the proposed nuclear targets of METI is unlikely when considering that; Not all of the 21 reactors under NRA review will ever operate; Multiple nuclear reactors will pass the 40-year age limit in the coming years and operating them beyond this time (by extending operating licenses) is unlikely; Multiple restarts of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa reactors are unlikely according to the release. Other reasons, such as capacity limitations and economics, are another factor in preventing restarts of the reactors currently not under review.

The Japanese government's active undermining of investor confidence in renewable energy potential in Japan runs counter to public interest in developing renewable energy, Greenpeace said.

In comparison, the German energy transition has shown the possibilities of how comprehensive energy policy can be restructured to build a clean energy future for a country. In response to the Fukushima Daiichi accident, Chancellor Merkel ordered the immediate shutdown of eight reactors and adopted a new plan to phase out all nuclear reactors by 2022.

From 2010 through 2013, German nuclear output fell by 43.3 TWh while renewable output rose by 46.9 TWh. Germany continues to produce more GDP with less energy. From 1990 to 2012, it reduced its Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions by 23% and raised its GDP at the same time by 39%. During the same period, Japan, in contrast, increased GHG emissions by 12.2%, while its GDP grew by 22 %. In December 2014, the German government made a commitment to reduce 40% of its GHG emissions by 2020 compared to 1990 levels. This is in stark contrast to the Japanese government, which has abandoned previous commitments and instead announced in November 2013 its GHG emissions in 2020 will be 3% over those of 1990.

Renewable energy currently saves Germany more than 7 billion euros per year because of lower spot market prices and the stoppage of energy imports, not to mention the prevention of environmental damage. The German renewables sector currently employs 380,000 workers more than in the conventional energy sector.

“Prime Minister Abe's nuclear energy policy lacks credibility and undermines renewable industry investments despite Japan’s massive renewable energy potential. In addition, the flawed assumptions of Japan’s energy policy will result in the importation of vast and expensive fossil fuels. Chancellor Merkel should understand that with its present obsession with nuclear reactor restarts, the Abe government won’t be able to achieve Japan’s climate targets. In contrast to German society and government, Japan's government is simply ignoring the important lessons of the Fukushima nuclear disaster,” said Hisayo Takada, energy campaigner with Greenpeace Japan.

Photo: Inside reactor 4 in Fukushima

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