Guest essay by Eric Worrall
“It’s a total joke”: Japan throwing a hilarious smokescreen over their commitment to climate action.
Climate change: Is ‘blue hydrogen’ Japan’s answer to coal?
By Rupert Wingfield-Hayes
BBC News, Tokyo
It’s a glorious autumn afternoon and I’m standing on a hillside looking out over Tokyo Bay. Beside me is Takao Saiki, a usually mild-mannered gentleman in his 70s.
But today Saiki-San is angry.
“It’s a total joke,” he says, in perfect English. “Just ridiculous!”
The cause of his distress is a giant construction site blocking our view across the bay – a 1.3-gigawatt coal-fired power station in the making.
“I don’t understand why we still have to burn coal to generate electricity,” says Saiki-San’s friend, Rikuro Suzuki. “This plant alone will emit more than seven million tonnes of carbon dioxide every year!”
Suzuki-San’s point is a good one. Shouldn’t Japan be cutting its coal consumption, not increasing it, at a time of great concern about coal’s impact on the climate?
So why the coal? The answer is the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.
In their place Japan’s gas-fired power stations have been doing a lot of overtime. But, as Britain has found out recently, natural gas is expensive.
So, the Japanese government decided to build 22 new coal-fired power stations, to run on cheap coal imported from Australia. Economically it made sense. Environmentally, not so much. Japan is now under intense pressure to stop using coal.
…Read more: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-59525480
Japan claims their coal plants are green hydrogen ready, but given how they baulked at the price of natural gas, I’m guessing the switch to green hydrogen will be a long time coming.