Japan Environment Minister Says Coal Plant Approval Problematic

Approval of a coal-fired power plant planned by a venture between Osaka Gas Co. and Electric Power Development Co. is problematic in the context of the need to cut greenhouse gases, Japan’s environment minister said.

The comment came after the Nikkei newspaper said the minister, Yoshio Mochizuki, opposes the plant because it jeopardizes Japan’s greenhouse gas reduction target.

“It is difficult for the project to gain approval at this point because a framework hasn’t been set up” to tackle climate change in the power industry, Mochizuki told reporters Friday in Tokyo. “There is a threat to achieving our emission cut target if we continue introducing coal power stations.”

Japan, the world’s fifth-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, is proposing a 26 percent cut to emissions from 2013 levels by 2030. The environment ministry has urged the power industry to propose voluntary climate change measures.

“We expect the power industry to set an effective framework as soon as possible,” Mochizuki said.

The 1,200-megawatt plant planned by Osaka Gas and Electric Power is to be located in the western prefecture of Yamaguchi, according to the venture’s website. Operations are expected to start in the first half of the next decade.

A spokesperson at Osaka Gas referred questions to Electric Power, which is better known as J-Power. Officials at J-Power weren’t immediately available for comment.

“We need to reduce coal as we make international pledges,” Mochizuki said, adding that Japan can make contributions to developing countries with Japan’s clean coal technology to reduce emissions. “It’s very important to strike a balance.”

Japan has plans for more than 23,000 megawatts worth of coal power units, according to data compiled by environmental group Kiko Network based in Kyoto.

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