The Japanese Government Relaxes Environmental Assessment for Constructing New Coal Fired Power Plants

On April 26th the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) publicized “the summary of a meeting by relevant ministries on TEPCO’s bid for thermal power” and officially announced the standard for environmental assessments of new coal fired power plant constructions.
The assessment’s reference to CO2 emissions was limited to requesting businesses to use the best available technology for currently operating power plants and to observe national objectives and policies. In Japan, there are no regulations or economic instruments such as emissions trade scheme, to limit CO2; therefore, Japan’s attempt to reduce CO2 emission would face further difficulties if relaxed environmental assessment is applied to the construction of new power plants.

The New Komeito Party had submitted the “Proposal Regarding the Review of Environmental Assessment of Coal Fired Power Plants” to the government beforehand. The ideas in the proposal included the importance of adhering to international promises, the problem of relaxing the environmental assessment while no policies to limit CO2 are implemented, the need of having a consistent approach by the entire government, and a warning against hastily decision on relaxing environmental assessment of coal fired power plants. The Japanese government, however, is sticking to the present arrangement.