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Energy: Japan Embracing Coal While The Rest Of The World Is Trying To Cut Emissions - by Samantha Page

Scotland just closed its last coal-fired power plant. England said it will be coal-free in the next decade. The United States has the Clean Power Plan, which doesn’t exactly end coal, but it puts a pretty hefty damper on it. Even China has made a series of announcements signaling they are dropping coal.

Japan, on the other hand, is planning to build 45 domestic coal plants, and the Japanese foreign investment bank is considering financing a massive project in Indonesia. As host of the next G7 meeting and a powerful player on the international stage, Japan’s doubling down on coal is not great news for the climate — and environmentalists are wondering how long it will last.

Coal has been a primary source of generation since electric power became widespread, accounting for 32 percent of generation in Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries in 2014, according to the International Energy Agency. And it has contributed hugely not only to climate change, but also to the air pollution that kills millions of people each year.

Mining for coal is notoriously hard and dangerous, and it, too, has taken a massive environmental toll in the United States and abroad.

Right now, there are five coal plants under construction and another 41 under development in Japan, according to Kimiko Hirata, international director for the Kiko Network, a Japanese environmental coalition.

And it is unclear how those plans will fit with the world’s recent pledge in Paris to keep global warming under 2°C. Japan’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) is equivalent to 18 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, a goal Climate Action Tracker rates as “inadequate.” 

In light of this, and the recent arrival of inexpensive wind and solar, much of the world is trying to move away from coal generation. In fact, according a new report from CoalSwarm, the Sierra Club, and Greenpeace, coal generation has declined for two years in a row. In Japan, though, coal consumption went up nearly 5 percent just last year. 

Read more: This Country Is Embracing Coal While The Rest Of The World Is Trying To Cut Emissions | ThinkProgress

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