EDITORIAL | COP27: Japan’s contribution should be the restart of its nuclear power plants

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The 27th Conference of the Parties (COP27) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), aimed at mitigating global warming, officially started on November 6 in Egypt.

2022 has once again seen an increase in extreme weather events and natural disasters. Moreover, the energy crisis caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine led Europe to turn to coal.

Reports sounding the alarm on the progression of global warming have already been published by the secretariat of the convention and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). Undoubtedly, COP27 will see the nations Parties strongly urged to redouble their efforts.

At COP26 in 2021, Japan pledged to reduce its CO2 and other greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 46% below 2013 levels by FY2030.

Considering that Japan’s pre-COP26 target was a 26% reduction, accepting any further substantial increase at COP27 could lead to disruption of industry and daily life. Citizens and businesses are already facing the threat of soaring utility costs as well as electricity shortages.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Shoukri speaks as the chair of the summit during the opening ceremony of COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, eastern Egypt, November 6.

Green nuclear energy

Resuming nuclear power generation would be the most effective way to break the deadlock and demonstrate to the world at COP27 that Japan is committed to decarbonization.

There remains a deep-rooted distrust of nuclear power generation in Japan. But even Germany, a superpower in renewable energies, has given up on its exit from nuclear power, initially planned for the end of 2022.

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Furthermore, in July, the Parliament of the European Union recognized nuclear power as a “green” energy contributing to the fight against global warming.

Despite an increasingly difficult global energy supply climate, Japan has currently only restarted 10 of its 33 nuclear reactors. And this, even if 11 years have passed since the Fukushima accident. In the eyes of the world, Japan must appear irresponsible.

Smog stains the color of the air in Wuhan, China. (©Sankei)

The responsibility of China and Russia

Looking around the world, China stands out as a major emitter that must commit to a substantial increase in its reduction target. Despite emitting a third of the world’s GHGs, China has said it will continue to allow its emissions to rise until 2030.

Russia, the fourth-largest emitter, also failed to respond with integrity. To date, the Conference of the Parties has not sufficiently responded to the questions raised by these countries.

Shedding light on these structural flaws is necessary for the future functioning of the convention.

COP27 is taking place against the backdrop of an unprecedented energy crisis and growing divisions within the international community. Rational responses should be expected from all countries. Japan must also be clear in the negotiations and not agree to end up with the small end of the stick.

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(Read the editorial in Japanese at teaIthe link.)

Author: Editorial Board, The Sankei Shimbun

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