A decision by Japan’s environment ministry to abandon its opposition to building new coal-fired power stations casts doubt on the industry’s ability to meet targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions, experts and environmental activists said.
The environment ministry’s recent reversal puts Japan further out of step with other industrialized economies that have been restricting coal to meet commitments on carbon emissions agreed between 200 nations in Paris two months ago.
The power industry accounts for 40 percent of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.
The environment ministry issued rare objections to five new coal-fired stations last year but has been pushed by the powerful industry ministry to accept voluntary steps by power companies to curb emissions.
As Japan gets ready to open up its power retail market in April, companies are rushing to build 43 coal-fired plants or 20.5 gigawatt of capacity in coming years, about a 50 percent increase.