JERA’s Ad “Zero CO2 Emission Thermal Power Generation”
is a Climate Greenwash – Filed Recommendation for exclusion
October 5, 2023
Mie Asaoka, President
The summer in 2023 has become a turning point from “global warming” to “global boiling” and “climate change” to “the beginning of climate catastrophe,” as we reach an era where we must question the nature of Anthropocene. Amidst the increasing danger to human lives due to the extreme heat, more than ever the importance of the 1.5℃ target has been recognized . Now, all of us is required to make a serious effort to reduce CO2 (GHG) emissions toward the 1.5℃ target, instead of “pretending” or in other words “greenwashing”.
Information on global warming countermeasures issued by businesses operators is imperative for consumption behavior that contributes to a sustainable economic society. While electricity serves as an essential resource for consumers, we must bear in mind that CO2 emitted from power generation accounts for 40% of Japan's energy-origin CO2 emissions. Therefore, it is crucial for us as consumers to choose electricity that can avoid climate crisis while being able to purchase it at an affordable price. Yet, consumers are currently led astray by incorrect information and misleading advertisements.
Appeals and claims in advertisements must be factual and well-sourced. However, advertisements of JERA, the largest coal-fired power generation company in Japan, which promote “Zero CO2 Emissions 2050”, “CO2-free fire”, and “zero-emissions thermal power”, fail to mention that (1) JERA uses fuel ammonia for co-firing in coal-fired power plants when production and other processes of ammonia emit immense amounts of CO2, and (2) even if 20% of ammonia is successfully co-fired in 2030, the remaining 80% will still be coal, which is inconsistent with the emission reductions required in 2030 to achieve the 1.5℃ target.
Therefore, today, Kiko Network, together with the Japan Environmental Lawyers Federation (JELF), has filed a petition to the Japan Advertising Review Organization (JARO), which strives to ensure fair advertising and labeling practices and to improve such practices in terms of their quality, requesting a recommendation to cease such advertisements.
The Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) of the IPCC clearly warns that every additional ton of CO2 emissions accelerates global warming. Around the world, organizations like JARO have been increasing the level of surveillance to regulate advertisements and labeling. Thus, the world expects JARO to play an observational role and recommend discontinuing misleading advertisements so that we, the consumers, can select appropriate products, act in an appropriate consumption behavior and help avert the climate crisis.
Comments by Dr. Benjamin Franta (University of Oxford)Benjamin Franta, JD, PhD
"JERA's advertisement claiming to produce 'CO2 emission-free fire' may be misleading. So long as a thermal power plant uses fossil fuel directly or indirectly, it releases geologic carbon into the atmosphere, and therefore is not 'CO2 emission-free.' Even if hydrogen or ammonia are used as fuel sources, so long as they are produced using fossil fuel, they are not 'CO2 emission-free.' Therefore, JERA's advertisement may mislead consumers to believe its fossil-fuel thermal power plants are 'CO2 emission-free' when in fact they are not."
Senior Research Fellow and Head of the Climate Litigation Lab
Associate, Institute for New Economic Thinking at the Oxford Martin School
Oxford Sustainable Law Programme, Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, University of Oxford
My latest: Corporate Greenwashing: The Lawyers Are Coming (ECGI)
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