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Carbon Brief: Japan vows to slash financing of coal power in developing world

Published by , Editorial Assistant
World Coal,

Carbon Brief reports: In an interview with the Financial Times, Japan’s environment minister Shinjiro Koizumi has hailed a ‘turning point’ in his country’s climate change policy after vowing to slash its much-criticised support for coal power in the developing world.

The FT notes that Koizumi says Japan’s new strategy on infrastructure exports announced last week marks a clear change in approach, following opprobrium at last December’s UN climate conference in Madrid: “The new policy will curtail an important source of official finance for coal power stations in south-east Asia and help spur a regional shift towards cleaner energy – if Japan implements it rigorously. Although the country will still support the export of coal power turbines under some conditions, Mr Koizumi said that in practice they would be difficult to meet.”

The paper explained: “Tokyo has provided billions of dollars of low-interest loans to build coal power plants in India, Vietnam and Indonesia through the Japan Bank for International Cooperation, using equipment from manufacturers such as Mitsubishi Heavy, Hitachi and Toshiba. These projects have come under attack from environmental campaigners because they set fast-growing economies on a path towards decades of high carbon emissions, contributing to future climate change.”

The Japan Times has a Q&A about the nation’s new ‘historic’ coal policy which will see the shutting down of about 100 coal-fired power plants by 2030: “Of the 100 units being shut down, many are older, smaller-scale plants. Most of those predicted to be in operation in 2030 are newer, larger-capacity plants. But Japan will still face pressure to further reduce its reliance on coal, both domestically and abroad, and embrace renewable energy sources and other cleaner energy forms such as LNG.”

In the US, the Financial Times reports on the comments made by Matt Gallagher, chief executive of Parsley Energy, one of Texas’s biggest independent oil producers, who claims that US crude production has already peaked due to the recent price crash. “I don’t think I’ll see 13 million [bpd] again in my lifetime,” the 37 year old Mr Gallagher tells the Financial Times. “It is really dejecting, because drilling our first well in 2009 we saw the wave of energy independence at our fingertips for the US, and it was very rewarding to be a part of it.” The FT adds: “In his interview with the FT he spoke of his admiration for the European oil supermajors that recently announced net-zero emissions goals. He also called for an end to flaring in the shale patch.”

A comment piece in the FT by Derek Brower, who leads the newspapers energy coverage in the US, asks whether the “party is over” for US oil and gas: “Big oil blames eco-warriors. The American Petroleum Institute, a lobby group, hit out at a ‘barrage of baseless, activist-led litigation’. Dan Brouillette, Mr Trump’s energy secretary, cited ‘a well-funded environmental lobby, using our nation’s court system to further their agenda’. It is more than that. Duke and Dominion are both plotting net zero emissions futures. Battling environmentalists so they could build their pipeline across the Appalachian Trail would not have been a good look.

The backdrop has changed, too. While the US will remain the world’s biggest oil and gas market, renewables are now its growth business.” A feature in the New York Times notes that “oil and gas companies are hurtling toward bankruptcy, raising fears that wells will be left leaking planet-warming pollutants, with cleanup cost left to taxpayers”. The Guardian also has a feature asking “what next” for the global oil and gas industry: “While oil and gas are not alone in struggling in the economic slump, the reality of the climate crisis is starting to bite, analysts say.”

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