Japan’s climate change efforts hampered by biased business lobby: study

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s powerful Keidanren business lobby is dominated by energy-intensive sectors that make up less than 10% of the economy, driving national policies that favor coal and hampering attempts to fight change climate, according to a new study.

FILE PHOTO: A protester holds a bucket of coal during a protest demanding Japan stop supporting coal at home and abroad, during the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan June 28, 2019. REUTERS/Jorge Silva / File Photo

The influence of the country’s electricity, steel, cement, automotive and fossil fuel sectors is undermining Japan’s attempts to meet its commitments under the Paris Agreement, the report says from London-based data analytics company InfluenceMap.

The Keidanren, which has close ties with the Ministry of Trade and Industry as well as other government agencies, sits on expert groups and other forums where government policies are discussed. He acted as a “central negotiating point” on climate policy for two decades, according to the report.

Although it claims to represent all of Japanese business, the claim “should clearly be questioned on climate/energy policy,” InfluenceMap said. He added that Keidanren’s most powerful industries employ only about 2.7 million people, while those with little influence employ 10 times that number.

Lobbying and consultation with business groups will be essential next year when the government revises its strategic energy plan.

The Keidanren’s influence was on display last year when it argued that a government-proposed target to cut emissions by 80% by 2050 was “extremely ambitious” and pushed for all new goal to be a “vision,” InfluenceMap said.

Japan then adopted a goal of achieving carbon neutrality as soon as possible in the second half of this century, rather than an explicit emissions target for 2050.

Keidanren said in a statement to Reuters that he could not comment on the study because he had not yet officially received a copy. But he added that he had made political commitments to a low-carbon society and that the government’s climate targets were in line with the goals of the Paris agreement.

InfluenceMap noted that other groups in Japan that have blue-chip companies from the retail, finance, technology and construction sectors as members – such as the Japan Climate Initiative and the Japan Climate Leaders’ Partnership – strongly criticized the government’s climate change efforts.

The study’s findings are “mostly consistent with my personal experience as a policy maker in Japan negotiating the Kyoto Protocol and crafting national legislation,” Hikaru Kobayashi, who served as deputy minister of health, told Reuters. the environment from July 2009 to January 2011.

“What surprises me is that it remains unchanged today.”

Coal use in Japan hit record highs in the years following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster that shut down most of the country’s reactors.

Japan is also the only G7 country working on a major coal power deployment, with companies planning to build around 20 new coal-fired power plants with a total capacity of around 12,000 megawatts, within a decade. , according to a Reuters survey last year.

Coal now generates 32% of Japan’s electricity, although the government wants that proportion to drop to 26% and renewables to rise to 22-24% from around 18% currently by 2030.

For a graphic on Japan’s coal projects, please see tmsnrt.rs/3i4JCdZ

Using government statistics, InfluenceMap ranked industry sectors by economic importance and then assessed the influence of industry associations both within Keidanren and outside Keidanren.

He chose 50 groups for the study, ranking them using two metrics – how supportive a group is of climate policies that meet the Paris goals and how intensely a group engages with the government on climate policy.

To consult the InfluenceMap study, please click on: here

Reporting by Aaron Sheldrick; Additional reporting by Yuka Obayashi; Editing by Edwina Gibbs

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