For a country that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26% by 2030, it’s an odd move of Japanese government to support the domestic coal fired power projects. Japan aims to promote its initiative “Towards Zero Carbon” by offsetting all emissions at Tokyo 2020. Yet, this exact year of the Olympics, four new large scale coal plants are expected to start operating, followed by the Matsuura No.2 (Matsuura-city, Nagasaki 1,000MW) and the Noshiro No.3 (Noshiro-city, Akita 600MW) coal plants just started trial operation in May and August 2019 respectively.
These four plants are , Takehara new No.1 (Takehara-city, Hiroshima), Kashima No.2 (Kashima-city, Ibaraki), Nakoso IGCC (Nakoso-city, Fukushima), Hitachinaka Kyodo No.1 (Naka-gun, Ibaraki). Total capacity of these four power plants are 2.435GW, which means that from the exact year of “Toward Zero Carbon” Olympics, 13 million tons of carbon dioxide(CO2) emissions will be added yearly.
Not only that, nine more large scale coal plants of total capacity 6GW are under construction, which are expected to start operation from 2021-2024 and emit another 32 million ton of CO2 yearly. This is ironic contradiction of the “Toward Zero Carbon” Olympics initiative.
Each of these plants will also inevitably emit sulfur oxides (SOx) and nitrogen oxides (NOx), which are the precursor of PM2.5, the inhalable pollutant that pose a great risk to the human’s health.
Studies have shown that exposure to PM2.5 can cause inflammation and lung diseases, as well as cardiovascular disorders and ischemic stroke, which often leads to premature death, particularly among pregnant women, infants and elderly.
Air pollutants emitted from coal plants can be transported by the wind, spreading over hundreds of kilometers. The residents living in the area adjacent to the plant site is not the only ones who are affected, but also the inhabitants in the surrounding cities.
Further impacts on climate change and the severe damages on human health is completely avoidable, as renewable energy and the latest innovation of energy efficiency has proven to keep the lights on without coal.
With this in mind, Japan should immediately review plans for these four plants, and under the ideal of “Toward Zero Carbon” Olympics, must cancel plans to build more coal-fired power plants if it wishes to engage in substantive efforts toward “zero carbon” society.