Japan’s ambassador to Australia has confirmed Tokyo will defy calls by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to phase out coal by mid-century as part of a scientific appeal to limit global temperature increases to 1.5C.
Sumio Kusaka told The Australian that Japan would consider “all practical ways to further advance decarbonisation” but would need to bolster coal supply in the immediate future. He said Japanese plans to reduce reliance on fossil fuels in line with its international commitments would see a greater focus on nuclear energy, a form of power prohibited in Australia since 1998.
In recent weeks, Tony Abbott and Ziggy Switkowski, former chair of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, have called for the prohibition on nuclear power to be lifted to provide for the arrival of small modular reactors that can power towns of 100,000 people.
“I am aware the recent IPCC report contains some firm recommendations in relation to coal,” Mr Kusaka told The Australian.
“However, Japan is a country with very limited resources of its own, and bearing in mind our energy security requirements, it would be difficult for us to eliminate coal- fired power altogether.
“With a view to 2050, we are also considering all practical ways to further advance decarbonisation. In relation to this, some of the technologies we are looking at include renewable energy, nuclear energy and carbon capture and storage.’’
Mr Kusaka said Tokyo would continue to buy coal from Australia to secure its energy needs into the future. Japan was the largest importer of Australian thermal coal last year.