Climate campaigners score Japan’s Energy Push on the eve of Tokyo Summit

Climate campaigners urge Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to “demonstrate climate leadership” by putting Japan’s money where it should be – investing in renewable energy instead of promoting more  fossil fuel projects and false solutions  under the guise of “decarbonizing Asia.”

Activists held several coordinated mobilizations in the Philippines and several Asian cities today on the eve of the Commemorative Summit for the 50th year of ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation which will be held in Tokyo from December 16 to 18.

The mobilizations  were led by the Asian Peoples’  Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD) and its partners from the Fossil Free Japan coalition. Chanting “Japan, Don’t Gas Asia!,” climate campaigners scored Kishida’s administration for continuing to be the world’s top public financier of fossil fuels. They add that Japan’s harmful tactics and wrong policies that promote dirty energy are doing irreversible damage to a region that already suffers the effects of climate change. Furthermore, the campaigners underscored that Japan’s influence in the Southeast Asian region means a possibility of Japan exporting more fossil fuel projects in their region.

“The Tokyo Summit provides an opportunity for Japan to start meeting their historical obligations to their citizens and to the Global South. However, their current energy strategy only benefits the corporate interests and not the people and communities of ASEAN. This kind of energy strategy only causes more harm and dangers from the impacts of and the uncertain future of the climate crisis.” noted APMDD coordinator Lidy Nacpil.

Japan is the world’s second largest provider of public finance for fossil fuel projects, investing $9.7 billion into coal, gas and oil annually from 2017 to 2021. A recent report from Center, Energy, Ecology and Development also mentioned that it is the second-biggest financier of gas expansion in Southeast Asia, spending around $15 billion between 2016 and 2022. Its “Green Transformation” or GX  Basic Policy approved by the Japanese Diet last February  lists nuclear power, LNG, hydrogen, ammonia co-firing, and CCUS (carbon capture and storage) as “measures” for its “stable energy supply”  within the next decade. Activists lamented that the plan does not even make a reference to renewable energy targets or Japan’s nationally determined contribution (NDC) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the Paris Agreement.

Furthermore, Japan sought to expand its GX policy throughout Asia through the Asia Zero Emissions Community (AZEC), a Japan-led initiative that aims to incentivize Asian countries to switch to low-emission technologies. However, it is feared that the alliance will further encourage greater investment on fossil fuels and extend the life of coal under the guise of “decarbonizing Asia.”

Sharif Jamil, coordinator of Waterkeepers Bangladesh, observed that “Japan is risking its reputation by continuing to fund dirty fossil fuels and being the top financier of LNG worldwide. It should make the crucial decision of phasing them all out and build an ambitious goal towards 100% renewable energy.”

Rere Christanto, WALHI’s Campaign Manager on Mining and Energy, said that “Indonesia absolutely refuses to be a playground for Japan’s dirty technologies like fossil hydrogen and ammonia. The only future we see is one with renewable energy.”

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