The message in today’s Asian Financial Times is simple: climate leaders don’t fund coal.
The advert is addressed to Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, who last year wrote an opinion piece calling on the world to join him in the fight against climate change. The op-ed was in the Financial Times.
And today his words stare back at him in the same paper.
The reason for the advert, taken out be a coalition of over 50 groups from around the world, is that Japan is about to build more coal fired powered stations, than any other developed country.
It is also a major funder of coal fired power stations abroad. Abe can’t be a climate leader and allow coal-fired power stations to be built.
The irony is that the country could be a leader in renewable technology. Instead it is backing coal. It is worth remembering that coal doesn’t just cause climate change. It is also a killer: Air pollution from coal causes 20,000 premature deaths in Asia every year.
The contradiction in Abe’s position on coal is not lost on climate and energy experts. As the former head of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Christiana Figueres, recently stated: “There is no simply no space for any new coal in Japan or in any other country on this planet if we’re going to get to 1.5 [degrees Celsius]”
Even one commentator on the Oilprice.com website noted the contradiction too:
Despite Japan’s support for environmentalism, plans concerning the construction of another 7 GW of coal-fired power plants contradict Tokyo’s intentions. Also, through its banks and international development agencies, the Asian country is financing a string of coal-fired power plants from Vietnam to Indonesia. The Japan Bank for International Cooperation is providing $5.2 billion in financing for six coal-related projects in southeast Asia.
But it does not have to be this way. Oil Change International and the other NGOs are calling on Abe to scrap plans for new coal.
Soon a petition will be handed into Abe and other senior government officials urging them to reject public financing for not only coal in Japan, but also projects like the Van Phong 1 Coal Power Project in Vietnam.
The petition against funding the Van Phong plant argues that it not only undermines the Japanese government’s stated commitment to take more robust action on climate change, but it also violates the Japanese government’s commitment under the OECD Sector Understanding on Export Credits for Coal-Fired Electricity Generation.
On top of that, communities in Vietnam are concerned that coal ash from the project and discharges of cooling water will harm the environment and public health. They are also concerned that the project would undermine the livelihoods of farmers and nearby fisherfolk.
Please take a moment and urge the Japanese government to reject Van Phong 1. With your help, we can put an end to coal. As the advert states: “the fate of the planet is at stake”.
For more on the No Coal Japan campaign, visit http://www.nocoaljapan.org/.