Japanese greenhouse gas emissions hit an all-time high last fiscal year, according to a new report. Following Tokyo’s decision to shut down its nuclear reactors in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima disaster, fossil fuels have played an increasingly important role in powering Japan, and the country’s emissions are reflecting that. Reuters reports:
Emissions rose 1.6 percent to 1.395 billion metric tonnes of CO2 equivalent from a year earlier, preliminary data published by the Ministry of Environment on Thursday shows. That was up 1.3 percent from 2005 and up 10.6 percent from 1990.
As a heavy energy importer, Japan is one of the big winners in the bear crude market, as it will be able to secure far lower prices for the oil it imports. Of course, this won’t do its emissions any favors, and since its nuclear restart is still very much in its early stages and unlikely to return the industry to anything approaching its former size, Tokyo has had to re-work its climate commitments fairly drastically. Reuters continues:
The world’s fifth-biggest emitter said last year that it was targeting a 3.8 percent cut by 2020 from 2005 levels. That amounts to a 3 percent increase from a U.N. benchmark year of 1990 and the reversal of its previous goal of a 25 percent reduction.
Japan sits on a major fault line, and earthquakes, tsunamis, and even volcanoes are all potential threats to its reactors. But while nuclear energy may not be the safest for choice for the island nation, it still has a crucial role to play in providing zero-emissions baseload power elsewhere in the world, where these risks are more manageable. Germany took the wrong lessons from Fukushima when it decided to follow suit and phase out its reactors, and should be paying close attention to the upward trajectory of Japan’s emissions these days.