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Japan CO2 Emissions Worst on Record

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Mari Iwata, The Wall Street Journal

Japan’s carbon dioxide emissions were the worst on record in the last fiscal year, forced up by the nation’s reliance on natural gas and coal to generate electricity.

In the year ended in March, Japan emitted 1.224 billion metric tons of CO2, up 1.4% from the previous year and up 16% from 1990, the base year for emission cuts previously targeted under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said Friday.

Japan said in 2010  it planned to cut CO2 emissions by boosting nuclear power to 50% of all its electricity output from 30% at the time. But that was before the Fukushima nuclear accident in March 2011 led to the subsequent outage of all 48 reactors in the country.

Since then, the country’s CO2 emissions have been steadily rising due to the necessary increase in use of fossil fuels to power Japan’s industrial complex. Imports of liquefied natural gas and coal in the last fiscal year were up 24% and 4.8% respectively from the levels before Fukushima.

Analysts say that a fall in the country’s energy consumption by 0.9% last year and the likely restarting of two nuclear reactors in Kagoshima prefecture in southern Japan next year won’t result in a major decline in greenhouse gas emissions.

Unless a number of reactors come back online soon, the trend of high emissions is unlikely to change much, said Tomomichi Akuta, analyst at Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ Research & Consulting.

The restarting of numerous reactors appears unlikely in the near future given public opinion toward nuclear power, he added. Polls generally show that about 60% of respondents are against the use of nuclear power.

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