Three “Options for Energy and the Environment”


Which way?

After the Earthquake and Fukushima disaster on March 11, 2011, Japanese government started a review process of its energy policies.

Under the Energy Policy Basic Law (Note: literal translation of the name), the government is asked to set up a strategic plan on energy policies every three years. The government just did that in 2010 and adopted the new “Basic Plan on Energy” (Note: the same as above) in the same year (if you want to see this old version, you can read the summary here; it says “Strategic Energy Plan of Japan”). However, in light of the disaster, it started the process to re-change it.

After almost one year of discussion at governmental advisory committees, the governmet presented the so-called three Options for Energy and the Environment on June 29th.

Those three options are basically divided by share of nuclear in electricity mix in 2030 but these also include other details too (e.g. renewable percentages, fossil fuel mix, etc).

You can see government’s own explanation in the slides here.

There are lots of thing I want to talk about these so-called “Options” or scenarios. However, let me first focus on implications for climate targets of these Options because they are devastating.

In summary, climate targets for the three Options like like the following:

  • 0% Scenario: 0% nuclear in 2030 => 7% GHG reduction below 1990 by 2020, 23% by 2030
  • 15% Scenario: 15% nuclear in 2030 => 9% GHG reduction below 1990 by 2020, 23% by 2030
  • 20-25% Scenario: 20-25% nuclear in 2030 => 10-11% GHG reduction below 1990 by 2020, 25% by 2030

You might wonder why the difference between 0% scenario and 15% or 20-25% secnarios is not so big. It is because both renewable and energy efficiency assumptions are enhanced in case of 0% scenario. I will talk about those assumptions later.

The current Japanese target for GHG reduction is 25% reduction below 1990 by 2020. It was announced before the Copenhagen conference in 2009 and was also submitted to the Cancun pledges (though, with strong conditionality).

It should be noted that the figures in these Options are expressed as pure domestic reduction while the 25% reduction was understood to include forest sinks and offsets. If you assume the same level of use of those measures as in the Kyoto’s first commitment period, Japan would use 3.8% and 1.6% of sinks and offses respectively. Hence you can say, 0% Scenario Option is actually 12.4%; 15% Scenario Option is 14.4%; and 20-25% Scenario Option is 16.4%.

Nonetheless, these are significant regress from the original 25% reduction target. When the UN negotiations are talking about “raising ambition,” this won’t look nice.  If any of the three Options is adopted as the way forward as it is, then it is very likely that the climate target is also revised accordingly.  In short, we are on the verge of losing the 25% reduction target.

The government is now holding some sort of public consultation process and origanlly planned to conclude by the end of August.   I said “some sort of” because the public consultation process has some problems.  I also said “originally planned to conclude” because now it is getting likely to get postponed at least by Fall due to the problems.

Anyway, in a nutshell, from climate perspective, these three Options put forward by the government is not exactly encouraging. I hope to dig into more in the next posts.