Japan Ranks Among Worst Performers in Climate Change Efforts

  • Japan places 58th in index By Germanwatch and CAN Europe
  • US, China improve ranking in climate change performance index

Japan ranks among the worst performers in an index comparing the emissions of 58 countries and measures to protect the climate, far below other major emitters like the U.S. and India, according to a report by Germanwatch and Climate Action Network Europe.

QuickTake Climate Change

Japan came in at 58th, just above Australia, according to the report. Denmark tops the list, though it ranks only fourth since the first three spots have been left open, according to the report.

“No country is acting enough to prevent dangerous climate change,” the groups said in a statement.

Japan fell three places from last year in the index, which was released earlier this week and looks at five categories: carbon dioxide emissions level, changes in emissions from different sectors, renewable energy, energy efficiency, and climate policy.

“Its score worsened in nearly every category of the Index,” according to the report.

Fukushima Aftermath

Japan scored “very poor,” the worst category among five, in terms of emissions, efficiency, and climate policy. “National experts criticize the promotion of coal-fired power plants and the lack of an effective and binding emission-trading scheme,” according to the report.

“As Japan has had to rely on more thermal resources in the aftermath of Fukushima, naturally its emissions have grown,” Ali Izadi-Najafabadi, an analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance in Tokyo, said by e-mail, referring to the March 2011 earthquake and nuclear disaster. “Unlike the U.S. and Europe, it hasn’t also aggressively come out against coal nor introduced long-term ambitious renewables targets.”

The country has pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent by 2030 from 2013 levels, a goal that’s been criticized by environmental groups as too weak.

“We won’t comment on each and every activity of private organizations,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said of the report at a press conference on Thursday. “But Japan will of course work hard on climate change and the measures we have been taking are on a par with other countries.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. improved its placing to 34th from 46th. 

“Recent positive developments such as the rejected construction of a large oil-sands pipeline and efforts to push international climate negotiations, send positive signals,” according to the report, which ranked India 25th.

Coal Plans

“Japan’s plan to increase coal-fired plants one after another is regarded as a sign the country is backward-looking” in tackling climate change, said Takako Momoi, who studies climate change policy and manages the Tokyo office of the Kyoto-based environmental group Kiko Network.

“The country should take the results seriously as this is how the world is seeing us and should push through further policy change and a shift to renewables,” she said.

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