By Ben Heard
HOW dare anyone pretend to be surprised by Japan’s reduced emissions target? This was a foregone conclusion with a global element of responsibility and important lessons for Australia.
The frightening loss of the Fukushima Daiichi reactors precipitated the withdrawal from service of Japan’s remaining, largely undamaged nuclear generators for stress testing and additional protective measures. The only feasible result was a dramatic increase in consumption of fossil fuels.
As The Breakthrough Institute reported: “In January 2012 … Japanese utilities increased imports of fuel oil by 165 per cent, crude oil by 174 per cent, LNG by 39 per cent, and coal by 12 per cent.”
This pathway has pushed Japan’s emissions about 100 million tonnes higher per year. Importantly for the 2020 target, the political consequences of the nuclear accident have prolonged this shutdown and also seen about 18 gigawatts of planned and proposed new nuclear build suspended or deferred. With more than 90 per cent of Japan’s emissions coming from the energy sector, expanded nuclear power has undergirded its global commitments from the very beginning.
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