Cabinet members said on Friday they had agreed [on] a new target with an updated timeframe, under which Japan would seek to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 3.8 per cent by 2020 compared with their level in 2005. Nobuteru Ishihara, the environment minister, is to defend the goal next week when he joins international climate talks in Warsaw….The new target announced on Friday represents a 3 per cent rise over the same 30-year period – a difference from the previous goal that is about equal to the annual carbon dioxide emissions of Spain.
Japan is the world’s fifth-largest emitter of CO2, which makes this announcement more than just a regional setback. But while greens are busy decrying the news, they might spare a moment to reflect on the environmental merits of nuclear power. When sited correctly, with proper safeguards and ideally not on or near major fault lines, and especially with newer generations of molten salt or thorium reactors, the benefits of nuclear are manifest. The plants provide huge amounts of consistent baseload power—something renewables will never be able to achieve barring some miraculous battery technology—and they do it without emitting greenhouse gases.A group of climate scientists recently sent a variety of green groups a missive, urging the movement’s leadership to acknowledge nuclear’s advantages, especially over fossil fuels. Japan is proof positive of nuclear’s green chops—you don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone.[Nuclear power plant image courtesy of Shutterstock]