Japan’s Climate Action Criticized as it Receives ‘Fossil’ Award Again

Japan has once again been given the “fossil” award by an international environmental group for its emphasis on coal-fired power despite pledging to contribute to global decarbonization. The Climate Action Network, known for identifying countries that are slow to address climate change threats, presented the award to Japan at the U.N. climate change conferences. This marks Japan’s fourth time receiving the dubious honor, previously winning the award in 2019, 2021, and 2022. The United States and New Zealand were also recipients of the award at the ongoing COP28 in Dubai.

In an effort to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in thermal power generation, the Japanese government is promoting technology that involves mixing ammonia with fuel. However, this initiative has been met with skepticism by environmental groups. During the conference, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida emphasized Japan’s collaboration with countries in Southeast Asia to transition to clean energy. Despite these efforts, the Climate Action Network criticized Japan’s approach, accusing the country of greenwashing and expressing concerns that the use of hydrogen and ammonia co-firing with fossil fuels will perpetuate reliance on thermal power plants.

The organization stated, “This push to lock in fossil fuel-based energy across the continent is delaying the transition from fossil fuels to renewables, adding hurdles to achieving the global goal of tripling renewables.” Japan, a resource-poor nation, has been heavily reliant on fossil fuel imports, such as coal and crude oil, following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, which led to many nuclear power plants remaining inactive.

During a mock awards ceremony at the COP28 venue, the “fossil” award was presented multiple times, drawing attention to the issue of countries’ commitment to addressing climate change. Despite Japan’s efforts to promote clean energy, its continued reliance on coal-fired power has garnered criticism on the international stage.



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