June 12th, 2015

PRESS RELEASE:?Minister of Environment says “No” to plans for new coal plant
- Plans for new coal plants must come to an end -

? Today Japan’s Ministry of Environment released the Minister’s opinion on the planning of Yamaguchi-Ube Power Generation Co. Ltd’s new coal-fired power plant in Yamaguchi prefecture. The minister stated that the tentatively named “Nishiokinoyama Power Plant” would be “difficult to endorse”.

Since the Great East Japan Earthquake, plans to build new coal power plants have been on the rise. The Minister of Environment hasn’t issued such a clear view on pushing back against new coal plants through the environmental impact assessment before. However, this time, the Minister’s stated through his opinion that this new coal plant should be reconsidered. Kiko Network supports the move.

The large-scale “Nishiokinoyama Power Plant” is set to have a total capacity of 1200MW. If this plant begins operations, it will emit an estimated 7.2 million tonnes of CO2. According to the IPCC’s (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) 5th Assessment Report, such high carbon infrastructure makes it difficult to convert to a low-carbon society in the long run; rather it is necessary to have short-term policies. In addition, at last week’s G7 meeting, Japanese PM Shinzo Abe agreed on the country heads’ declaration which stated that “We commit to doing our part to achieve a low-carbon global economy in the long-term including developing and deploying innovative technologies striving for a transformation of the energy sectors by 2050”, and “ To this end we also commit to develop long term national low-carbon strategies”. However, Japan’s new fleet of coal-fired power plants goes against these statements.

The Minister of Environment cited that the ministry doesn’t recognize the consistency between the INDC draft of 26% reduction target for greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and an energy mix of 26% coal by 2030, and that “they can’t be approved at this time”. In addition, the Minister urged for the quick establishment of a power industry framework which they are required to do. However, if a framework is built through utility operators, these utilities will emit large amounts of CO2 over a long period once it’s built. It’s clear that this will not help establish a low-carbon economy.

We request that, based on the Minister of Environment’s statement, the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry also urges the company to reconsider the project, while taking climate impacts into account. In addition, Yamaguchi-Ube Power Generation Company should thoroughly review and cancel the project. The utility should reconsider the coal-fired power plant, which would have huge environmental ramifications, and replace it with clean, renewable energy. Furthermore, in light of the Ministry of Environment’s statement, we strongly request all other developers, even those that have already conducted their impact statements, to reconsider their plans for new coal-fired power plants.




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