Japan Environment Minister Won’t Back Another Coal-Fired Plant

Japan’s environment minister said he won’t support a new coal power station planned for central Japan, the latest push by the ministry to rein in coal projects to control the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The move, by Yoshio Mochizuki, pits the environment ministry against the trade and industry ministry, the government body ultimately responsible for approving the project and a supporter of coal as a replacement for nuclear-generated power and more-expensive liquefied natural gas.

Mochizuki’s comment on the project planned for Aichi prefecture is the latest concern expressed by the minister about resurging interest in coal-fired projects.

In a statement, Mochizuki said the 1,070-megawatt coal-fired unit planned by Chubu Electric Power Co. may threaten Japan’s efforts to reduce emissions. The project would replace three oil-fired units which began operations in 1972.

Mochizuki flagged the issue of Japan’s emissions targets in June when he said a coal-fired project planned by a venture between Osaka Gas Co. and Electric Power Development Co. for the western prefecture of Yamaguchi is problematic.

Last month, Japan submitted its reduction targets to the United Nations ahead of climate talks in Paris at the end of the year. Japan is the world’s fifth-largest emitter of greenhouse gases.

Emissions Targets

Japan is proposing a 26 percent cut to emissions from 2013 levels by 2030. The power industry in July announced a voluntary target of 35 percent emissions cut from 2013 levels by 2030 after being urged by the government.

In addition, Mochizuki said the power industry needs to come up with detailed plans to reduce emissions soon and should consider what to do if emission cuts fall short of the target.

While Mochizuki has become increasingly vocal about coal developments, the trade and industry ministry has sole discretion to grant building approvals. The environment ministry’s role is to oversee environmental impact assessments as they relate to power projects.

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