＜From “Kiko Network News” Vol.35,March 2004＞
“Long-term Energy Supply and Demand Outlook” is regarded as a quantitative target of Japan’s Energy Policy. A report submitted by the Advisory Committee for Natural Resources and Energy,which is a council of the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), will be approved by the Natural Energy Measure Drive Ministerial Conference Ministerial Council of Comprehensive Energy Measures without any discussion at the Japanese Diet (parliament). Also, the energy related policies of the Guideline of Measures to Prevent Global Warming twice in the past were based on this “Outlook”.Take a look at the energy policy and its problems in this “Outlook” in the following.
The “Outlook” is mostly a symptomatic treatment
UK’s Energy White Paper issued in February 2003 adopted a target to reduce CO2 emissions by 60% by 2050, stating” The first challenge we face is environmental.” On the other hand, Japan’s “Long-Term Energy Supply and Demand Outlook” lacks setting both a long-term target of the CO2 emissions reduction and a short-term measure to meet that target. Also, symptomatic treatments have been chosen as counter-measures, instead of urging change of a social structure to protect the environment.
A path of Expanding Nuclear and Coal energy with Full of problems
The energy policy of the Japanese government has been considered to aim at simultaneous achievements of three subjects, “economy”, “environment” and “stable supply”. Among them,”stable supply” has been a top priority so far. In Japan, which is poor on natural resources, there are two major paths for ensuring stable supply. One is to make a thorough saving of energy along with making the best use of renewable energy to reduce dependence on foreign energy resources, which is an environment-friendly pathway. The other is to make massive supply of energy from nuclear and overseas fossil fuel. The government picked the latter path and practically performed an expansion of nuclear and coal supply under the name of ” best mix” without clear foundation and indicators.
here are also two major methods to deal with climate change. One is a fundamental change of CO2 emission structure by promoting energy efficiency and renewable energy. The other is a symptomatic treatment maintaining mass production. Again, the government chose the latter one, and a measure to cope with climate change is dependent on the conventional path of expanding nuclear power.
As for “economy”, directions will be fundamentally different between considering changing the structure into highly value-added economy presuming preservation of the environment and considering maintaining an existing mass-production society.The government again selected the latter policy, aiming at continuation of both massive energy supply and conventional mass-production in the conventional industry. Again, nuclear power has been given an emphasis and regarded inexpensive by the government’s estimate, though it is globally considered as high-cost .
After all, nuclear power is given a superior position in all three respects of “stable supply”, “environment”, and “economy”. The “Outlook” revised in 2001 approved massive increase of demand on both energy and coal, calling for an addition of 10 to 13 nuclear power plants. This is not a problem of mere nuclear energy itself. It is characterized by total dependence on symptomatic treatments while keeping a conventional energy structure and a mass production society which is a basis of such a structure.In this way, prevalence of energy efficiency and renewable energy is significantly delayed.
Cheap Trick Measure at A Standstill
In the first half of 1990’s, European countries shifted from coal to natural gas and renewable energy. The Japanese government, on the other hand, approved a large increase of coal power. The electricity generated by coal power tripled from 1990 to 2002, which resulted in a massive increase of CO2.
The JCO disastrous nuclear accident in Tokaimura, Ibaraki prefecture, cover-ups of nuclear power troubles by electric power companies, and scandals involving leaks of public reports, have all led the Japanese people to conceive complete distrust in nuclear power. Half of the nuclear power plants scheduled to start operation by 2010 are put off till after 2011. In 2003, nuclear power plants of Tokyo Electric Power Co. went out of function, which caused fear of unstable power supply.
On the other hand, energy saving to which less importance was attached in the policy has not shown much progress. For example, in the industrial sector where energy saving was entrusted to “voluntary actions”, the industrial production index (output in a broad sense) decreased by 10% or more from 1990 to 2001, while the energy consumption increased, showing a significant deterioration in efficiency. Renewable energy along with waste-generated electricity and others only accounts for 3% of the energy supply in 2010. Revised “Outlook” in 2001indicated a control of coal use for the first time as a “fuel conversion” measure, and taxation on coal was introduced at a insufficient tax rate. Those measures indicate fine adjustments in the policy, but could not change the structure drastically.
Reflection of Citizens’ Opinions in Decision Making
Prior to review and revision of the Guideline of Measures to Prevent Global Warming in 2004, a discussion has begun on a revision of “Supply and Demand Outlook” at councils of the METI.One of the councils is the supply and demand section meeting of the Advisory Committee for Natural Resources and Energy. A long-term outlook towards 2030 is expected to be set up prior to the energy supply and demand scheme of 2010 which is the key to judge compliance of the Kyoto Protocol. It is normal to set a long-term target and then consider a short-time measure accordingly. However, it is concerned that less importance is attached to steady measures towards 2010, while a mass-production society is maintained, depending on less-possible dreamlike technological developments. Also, reports issued by the industrial structure council of the METI last summer seemed to search for a loosely enforcing scheme unlike the Kyoto Protocol for the next step. Even today, they seem to have discussions in a direction to untouch the present mass-production society, placing high importance on progressive technological developments.
Through the revisions of the “Outlook” this time, there is a high possibility that further negative reports are submitted and they will have a negative influence in revising the Guideline. Therefore, it will be greatly crucial for citizens to speak out their views, for the public to accept requirements from science of climate change, and for the government to make them reflect in the decision-making.