The percentage of renewables in the global energy mix has risen significantly over the years due to, for example, lower costs for photovoltaic cells. The improved financial position of wind and solar energy has been a boon for the fight against climate change. With the signing of the Paris Agreement in 2016, an accord was reached on dealing with greenhouse-gas-emissions mitigation, adaptation, and finance starting in 2020. Regardless, of the unilateral withdrawal of the United States, it was the first time that developed, and the developing countries agreed on measures to mitigate climate change.
An early attempt to unite the world in 1997 resulted in the Kyoto Protocol hosted by Japan. The event was an outspoken sign of Tokyo’s support for the fight against global warming. Recently, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe even published an op-ed in the Financial Times calling for other countries to “join Japan and act now to save our planet”.
Despite Japan’s support for environmentalism, plans concerning the construction of another 7 GW of coal-fired power plants contradict Tokyo’s intentions. Also, through its banks and international development agencies, the Asian country is financing a string of coal-fired power plants from Vietnam to Indonesia. The Japan Bank for International Cooperation is providing $5.2 billion in financing for six coal-related projects in southeast Asia.
Also, in the area of public relations, Japan is far from achieving its goals. During the 2017 United Nations Climate Change Conference held in Bonn, Germany, an international network of nongovernmental organizations awarded the Fossil of the Day ‘prize’ to Japan. The ‘winner’ represents the country that has done most to obstruct international negotiations on climate change mitigation.
Tokyo has set itself the goal of reducing coal’s share in its energy mix to 26 percent by 2030 from 32 percent in 2016. Despite a short period of progress, CO2 emissions have been rising again after the tsunami of 2011 and the subsequent disaster at Fukushima which led to the closure of the country’s nuclear facilities.