Japan, host of this week’s G7 summit, is isolated before the meeting has even begun, as its continued love of dirty coal has exposed it as a rogue among its G7 peers.
While the G7 collectively provided more than $42 billion in support of coal projects between 2007 and 2015, Japan was the worst offender, putting up more than half of this sum, while also planning 47 new coal plants at home.
Such moves not only threaten lives at home and abroad, but they directly undermines the Paris Agreement, will cement Japan’s reputation as a drag on international climate action, and will leave it missing out on the huge economic benefits of the renewable energy transition and facing vast sums stranded in worthless coal assets.
- Shepherd of the 1992 Kyoto Protocol, Japan was once a climate leader, but its coal push has left it a foot-dragging rogue. Japan has put both climate change and health emergencies on the G7 agenda, but whatever progress it may secure will be undone by itscommitment to expand coal use at home and abroad. Japan has used the Fukushima nuclear disaster as an excuse for its lacklustre ambition to reduce emissions, but as other G7 nations look to address their long-term decarbonisation plans this year, it is at risk of being left behind and has run out excuses not to act.
- Quitting coal for renewables makes sense economically, but it is also essential to save lives. As 300,000 health professionals pointed out, a fast transition away from coal will not only save lives directly by reducing air pollution – up to 10,000 lives will be saved in Japan alone if it does not build its 47 planned coal plants -, it will save lives indirectly by reducing the impact and frequency of extreme weather events, such as those currently hitting communities across India, Sri-Lanka and Bangladesh.
- There is no future in coal; renewables have already won. According to IRENA, solar PV is the largest renewable energy employer with 2.8 million jobs worldwide – an 11 per cent increase from last count, while China, the United States and Germany drove strong wind installations and a five per cent increase in wind jobs to hit 1.1 million globally. Japan enjoyed big solar gains itself, with a 28 per cent increase in employment in 2014. Japan’s love affair with coal, however, is expected to see its renewable jobs go backwards at next count, while setting itself up for huge losses in stranded coal assets.