Japan, faced with increasing calls from environmentalists to phase out coal, is standing by its support of the fossil fuel, saying it will help developing countries adopt the best available technologies for coal-fired power plants.
Pressure to rein in carbon dioxide emissions is intensifying, especially after the Paris Agreement, a global deal reached in December to tackle climate change. Environmentalists have criticized Japan for being one of the biggest providers of coal financing among Group of Seven nations and for being a laggard in switching to cleaner energy sources.
In response, Japan says it’s helping to develop more efficient coal-fired plants that can cut carbon dioxide emissions. The Asian nation’s financing of coal-fired projects is also helping to improve energy security in countries that still rely on the cheap fuel, officials say.
“It is not realistic to quit coal entirely,” Takafumi Kakudo, director of the clean coal division at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, said in an interview. “Environmental aspects alone can’t dictate the way countries set their energy policies.’’
Asian countries such as India and Indonesia are planning to add more coal capacity to meet growing power demand. Japanese companies such as Toshiba Corp. have plans to supply equipment to such coal-fired plants, while the state-owned Japan Bank for International Cooperation has provided loans for projects abroad.
“We want to make our contribution so these countries can reduce emissions,” Kakudo said, adding that Japan is also ready to provide support for gas-fired power projects.
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