Japan and South Korea will continue with their plans to open scores of new coal-fired power plants, less than a week after the signing of the climate deal in Paris, according to a Reuters report Tuesday. Together, the two countries are set to add over 60 new coal-based power plants in the next 10 years.
A South Korean ministry official told Reuters that there was no change in the offing, when asked if the Paris agreement could prompt the government to reduce the planned number of coal-fired plants. In Japan, while the environment ministry declined to comment, an official reportedly said, anonymously, that the Paris climate deal would have no impact on the ministry’s assessments of coal plants.
Japan’s Electric Power Development Co. Ltd., the country’s top thermal coal user, also said the Paris deal would not alter its coal plans. “Our stance on new coal plants is unchanged,” a spokesman told Reuters, adding that emissions would be cut as ageing coal plants are replaced by new ones using the latest technology.
The climate deal, signed last week, called on rich countries to engage in “absolute” reductions in emissions.
Japan has come under heavy criticism for its lack of will to match European countries' initiative on minimizing coal use — its 18 percent target for emissions cuts from 1990 to 2030 is less than half of Europe’s. Meanwhile, analysts say Japan and South Korea both have room to reduce carbon emissions by much more than what they pledged in Paris.
“The focus in Asia has been more on China and India, so we haven’t seen much attempt to put pressure on Japan and South Korea yet. But I imagine pressure will start to increase,” senior analyst Georgina Hayden at BMI Research, a unit of ratings agency Fitch Group, told Reuters.
A December report released by Climate Action Tracker — an environment watchdog — said if all coal plants currently in the pipeline were to be built, by 2030, emissions from coal power would be 400 percent higher than the limit set by the Paris summit to restrict global warming to 2 degrees Celsius.