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Japan to allow new coal power plant but demand cuts elsewhere

Emissions targets cited in call for Chugoku Electric to take countermeasures

TOKYO -- Chugoku Electric Power will need to offset emissions from a planned coal-fired power plant through such steps as shutting down old fossil-fuel capacity, Japan's environment minister said, warning that the project threatens the nation's ability to meet its climate goals.

The utility seeks to build another heavily polluting plant at a time when Japan already finds it challenging to achieve emissions reduction targets, Masaharu Nakagawa said in an environmental impact assessment to be submitted as early as Friday to Hiroshige Seko, minister of economy, trade and industry.

Chugoku Electric plans to break ground on the 1 million kilowatt plant in the western prefecture of Shimane this November and bring it online in 2022. Coal accounts for nearly 60% of the company's power generation -- double the national average.

Nakagawa said he will let the project go forward but demand steps to mitigate its impact, such as scrapping or suspending old, inefficient fossil-fuel facilities or limiting the new plant's use.

Under the Paris climate change accord, countries including Japan agreed to aim for net zero greenhouse gas emissions by the end of the century. But sluggish progress on restarting nuclear plants after the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi disaster has spurred power companies to build new plants using such cheaper fuels as coal. Japan's openness to coal as a power source has met with international criticism.


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