Review of energy and climate policy developments in Japan before and after Fukushima

In Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews
Volume (Issue): 43
Peer-reviewed Article

In 20 09, Japan pledged to reduce its GHG emissions by 25% from 1990 levels by 2020 (“ Copenhagen Pledge” ). The achievement of the target depended largely on a large expansion of nuclear power. However, this ambitious plan became unfeasible af er the Fukushima nuclear disaster of March 2011.
This paper conducted a comprehensive review of Japan’ s recent energy and climate policy developments since 20 09 and particularly after March 2011 to assess where Japan stands today with regard to the achievement of the long-term global 2C goal.

Japan achieved its mitigation target for the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, but it was unsuccessful in reducing domestic GHG emissions in the residential and commercial sectors, and consequently relied more heavily on purchased Kyoto units. With regard to the revised 2020 mitigation target (“Warsaw Target”), when expected emissions reductions through nuclear power is factored out, domestic mitigation under the Warsaw Target was found to be only marginally more ambitious than the target that preceded the Copenhagen Pledge (9% reduction from 1990 levels). Japan cannot make secondary acquisitions of Kyoto units up to 2020 and thus, a bilateral offset scheme (JCM) could become an important credit source. However, its development regarding the additionality of the emissions reductions needs to be tracked carefully. Moreover, the legal underpinning of national mitigation targets and actions was currently found to be very weak in Japan.

The review of currently implemented policy measures revealed that among the three key measures considered for achieving the Copenhagen Pledge, only the renewable Feed-In-Tariff scheme was found to be relatively successful to date, but even this is currently under critical scrutiny. Recent new coal-fired power plant construction plans could jeopardize the achievement of both mid-term and long-term mitigation goals. The impact of nuclear power plant restarts on future CO2 emissions was found to be limited around 2030.

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