(credit: © Pram / Greenpeace)

The Problem

Our planet is in crisis. Our communities and ecosystems are suffering from record-breaking floods, wildfires, heatwaves and drought. Fossil fuels are the primary driver of this crisis.

There is growing consensus that governments must stop financing fossils. 39 governments and institutions including the United States and Germany have committed to ending support for overseas fossil fuel projects by the end of 2022. 

Top scientists and global agencies also recommend phasing out fossil fuel projects. The influential International Energy Agency, for instance, in its landmark Net Zero by 2050 scenario, has called for an end to new coal plants and mines, oil and gas fields and LNG export projects.

But Japan is headed in the wrong direction.

The Japanese government and corporations are doubling down and financing the expansion of fossil fuels. Despite claims to the contrary, Japan’s support for false solutions is wasting valuable time and will worsen the climate crisis.

Gas is dirty, expensive and unnecessary

Japan is actively working to expand gas consumption across Asia. Japan pledged $10 billion to expand gas markets in Asia in April 2021. 

Gas expansion poses one of the greatest threats to our planet and communities. According to Carbon Brief, gas played a larger role in increasing global emissions than coal in every year between 2013 and 2019.  

Methane, a climate super-pollutant over 80 times more potent than CO2, leaks along the entire gas supply chain, and has reached record levels in our atmosphere. This reduces any emissions benefit from coal-to-gas switching. 

Gas is expensive. Wind and solar are now the cheapest sources of new power generation capacity in countries that make up two-thirds of the world population, including China and India.

Renewables, grid development and management can meet growing electricity needs. Batteries and investment in grid management can do most of the work without emissions. Battery storage costs have plummeted over 80% in the past decade, and can outcompete gas peaker plants in countries that import gas.

Ammonia co-firing extends the life of dirty coal plants

Despite global consensus that we must phase out coal, Japan is promoting the co-firing of ammonia at thermal power plants which will extend the lifetime of dirty coal plants. This technology is not economically viable and will not cut carbon emissions nearly enough to meet our climate goals. 

To meet the Paris Agreement climate goals, OECD governments must phase out coal by 2030. Ammonia co-firing is a dangerous distraction.

Still financing new coal power plants

Despite its G7 commitment to not finance new coal plants after 2021, Japan is considering financing the Matarbari 2 and Indramayu coal plants. 

We can’t solve the climate crisis by pouring more fuel onto the fire. Japan must place our planet and communities’ health over the short-term interests of Japanese banks and corporations. Japan must end its support for fossils.