Revealing Japan’s dirty secret as the world’s top fossil fuel financier


It’s easy to lose touch with reality at the annual UN climate negotiations, also known as the COP. The buzz and energy of the tens of thousands at the annual UN conference dedicated to one of humanity’s greatest crises is overwhelming. And energizing.

Until you realize you don’t all share the same intention.

Take Japan, for example. Its gleaming white pavilion at the COP bears the slogan “Solutions to the Future”. With their technological prowess, it’s tempting to believe the rhetoric that they have the technologies to solve the climate crisis.

Japanese Pavilion at COP27 in Egypt, 2022.

But then you shake off the buzz and realize that their stance on supporting “low carbon energy transition” is code for a suite of technologies that Japan is promoting that will extend the use of fossil fuels. The same fossil fuels that generated the vast majority of emissions responsible for the climate crisis.

Japan is a greenwashing wonder.

It’s a little-known fact that Japan is the world’s largest provider of public fossil fuel finance, providing $10.6 billion a year on average from 2019 to 2021. It’s also the largest provider of public finance public for gas, according to a new briefing published by Oil Change International.

Japan has been the driving force behind the expansion of gas infrastructure in Asia and around the world. Mozambique LNG, Batangas in the Philippines, Barossa gas field in Australia, LNG Canada, LNG projects in Russia and so on.

On top of that, the Japanese government promotes other bogus solutions like ammonia co-combustion in coal-fired power plants, carbon capture and storage, and fossil hydrogen.

“Japan’s efforts to develop upstream oil and gas and promote false solutions are prolonging the use of fossil fuels and delaying the transition to renewable energy,” says Makiko Arima, Japan’s finance campaigner at the OIC.

Accelerating investment in clean energy and efficiency, not new fossil fuels, is the answer to the climate crisis and the energy security crisis, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA) . As the second-largest importer of LNG after China, Japan has invested billions in gas infrastructure for decades and used Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to justify increased gas funding.

However, the current energy crisis has been aggravated by the war in Ukraine and the slow global transition to clean energy. She also outlined the financial risks associated with gas financing. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has driven spot LNG prices in Asia to record highs, making LNG unaffordable and a barrier to energy access for some countries. Bangladesh is struggling with a gas infrastructure that it cannot supply. As a result, the country faces the prospect of power outages = blackout which could last three years.

Yet Japan continues to support new gas infrastructure despite opposition from local communities and corresponding project delays.

“Japanese fossil fuel funding will increase host countries’ dependence on fossil fuels, worsening the climate and energy crises and destroying people’s livelihoods,” said Ayumi Fukakusa, climate and energy campaign manager for Japan. Friends of the Earth Japan.

Civil society groups are taking action to protest the Japanese government’s imposition of ‘false solutions’ during Tokyo GX Week. Source: Masayoshi Iyoda / Japan

Projects in Mozambique, the Philippines and Australia, for example, threaten rich biodiversity, the livelihoods of people who depend on local ecosystems and communities facing relocation. Affected communities are organizing to oppose these projects, filing complaints with the authorities and bringing those responsible for the projects to justice.

Mozambique’s gas industry has created irreversible devastation to Mozambique’s climate, economy and environment, fueling a war that has created a million refugees and uprooted thousands from their homes, lands and communities. livelihoods. These impacts could not take place without financiers like the Japanese government,” Anabela Lemos, Director, Justiça Ambiental.

In the Philippines, communities and movements succeeded in stopping about half of the planned coal projects and at least two LNG projects. “Filipinos need real solutions amid the climate and energy crisis, not more fossil fuels,” said Gerry Arances, executive director of the Center for Energy, Ecology and Development. “The Japanese government should take note that their international cooperation in the form of false solutions is not welcome in the Philippines.”

Last year, the Japan Bank for International Cooperation approved a $346 million loan for the Barossa gas field project. Over the past decade, Australia has become the world’s largest gas exporter, but a lot of that has been thanks to public funding from countries like Japan,” said Luke Fletcher, chief executive of Jubilee Australia. “The Japan Bank for International Cooperation supported the extremely dirty Barossa Gas de Santos project, despite the fact that proper consent for the project was not sought or obtained from indigenous communities on Tiwi Island.”

Fossil fuel-powered “decarbonization” efforts are a smokescreen for Japan’s hidden agenda: to protect Japanese commercial interests on people and the planet. If Japan is serious about showing climate leadership and supporting a regional ‘zero emissions community’, it should immediately end public funding of fossil fuels, as promised at this year’s G7 summit, and support a transition. just towards renewable energies.

Shortly after Japan accepted a G7 commitment end new public funding for fossil fuels by the end of this year, a Japanese official has claimed that Japan will continue to fund upstream oil and gas developments.

For more on Japan’s dirty secret, check out our briefing here.


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