(Mainichi: January 30, 2016, Evening edition – p. 1)
An expert panel on global warming within the Ministry of the Environment (led by Takashi Onishi, president of the Science Council of Japan) urged power companies to cut greenhouse gas emissions to nearly zero in a proposal that it laid out on Jan. 30. The move is aimed at warning against utilities, which are stepping up their reliance on coal-fired power generation following the nuclear meltdown in Fukushima.
Plans are underway among power companies to build coal-fired thermal plants before the full liberalization of the electricity market in April. These are a cheaper source of energy than natural gas and other resources. Last year, the MOE issued five reports to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry that it does not approve construction projects based on the environmental assessment act.
Utilities are responsible for producing 40% of greenhouse gas emissions. Based on this, the proposal stressed “the need to slash reliance on fossil fuels to the limit” and called for imposing a “carbon tax” on fossil fuels to lower cost merits. It also urged utilities to switch to renewable energy sources.
Japan has made an international pledge to cut greenhouse gas emission by 26% from the 2013 levels by 2030. The cabinet has also endorsed a long-term target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050. (Slightly abridged)