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7. Decisions for a greener future

If New Power Plants are to be built, then at least use Natural Gas

Even if people understand that coal is backward and dirty, it will be difficult to immediately change a system that has been in place for so long. Complete independence from fossil fuel cannot be achieved immediately. However, natural gas, which is more efficient, should be used over coal as an interim measures.  It is our responsibility to stop further rises in CO2 emissions now and rethink our choices that may increase CO2 emissions in the future. Since the latest coal fired power plants emit the same amount of CO2 as oil fired power plants, coal cannot possibly be sustainable.  So what is a smart energy choice for the future? The use of coal must be reduced as quickly as possible and greener alternatives to coal should be the only option for future use.

Limiting CO2 Emissions

The Kyoto Protocol set a cap on CO2 emissions and other greenhouse gases from 2008-2012. However, the Japanese government declared that it will no longer set a 2020 target under the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, essentially abandoning its international responsibility. Not only did Japan reject the international mandatory target, Japan also lacks a clear domestic reduction target. Nothing has been done since Prime Minister Abe completely scraped the “25% emission reduction target” set when the Democratic Party of Japan, former ruling party, was in power.  In a time of growing global concern over climate change, is it responsible for one of the richest developed countries to lack any kind of meaningful mid- and long-term target? In order to avoid long-term CO2 emissions from coal fired power plants, a bold policy to change the current course must be introduced to fight climate change at the national level and, consequentially, set an ambitious target for reducing emissions.

Reliable Renewable Energy

Sample image of renewable energy zoning: In the case of Fukushima 風力ゾーニング
(Source: Ministry of Environment “Renewable Energy Zoning Basic Information 2011 edition”)

Nuclear power and fossil fuels, such as oil and coal, are not the only methods to generate electricity.  There are various types of renewable energy such as solar energy, wind power, biomass, and small hydropower. Even in Japan, new laws (such as those concerning feed-in-tariffs) have passed and the introduction of renewable energy has been increasing.  Local governments and private firms throughout the country have actively pushed for renewable energy.  On its website, the Ministry of Environment has created a map that show each area in Japan and its potential for renewable energy. The question of where to introduce renewable energy is becoming clearer. In the world, there are countries and institutions that go the extra mile in their efforts to realize a completely sustainable society.  Japan should also take on such a vision in which renewable energy is the sole source of energy. Misunderstandings concerning coal would cease to exist if such a clear goal is set in Japan.

Solar Panels

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Wind Power

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