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Japan and the European Union (EU) are increasing, rather than decreasing coal use despite claiming leadership in the battle against purported human caused climate change. Because, of the fossil fuels, coal emits more carbon dioxide per unit of energy produced than oil or natural gas, Japan (1997 Kyoto protocol) and the European Union (2015 Paris climate agreement) targeted coal use for a steep, rapid reduction. Evidence suggests they are having second thoughts about the virtues of coal as a source of electric power.
The Nikkei Asian Review reports the share of coal in Japan’s electric power mix actually increased from 10 percent in 1990 to 31 percent in 2015. Japan plans to add approximately 40 new coal power plants in the coming decade. Indeed, despite its Kyoto and Paris commitments to reduce emissions, the Japanese government estimates fossil fuels will still make up a majority of its electric power supply, 56 percent, in 2030, compared to 22 to 24 percent for all renewable sources combined.
In Europe, five EU nations, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Poland, and the United Kingdom, in an attempt to head off a directive from the European Commission to end government subsidies for new and existing coal power plants, published a joint paper, calling for government subsidies for coal power plants unable to meet climate related emissions standards to be continued beyond 2030, allowing a “suitable and realistic transition period,” for such power plants.
Good intentions don’t matter when the need to provide reliable electric power to one’s population clashes with the goal of cutting carbon emissions in the (misguided) attempt to fight purported human climate change. Unless a country has and is willing to access abundant natural gas, or build more nuclear power, coal is still the go to source of energy.