Japan's 2017/18 CO2 emissions drop to 8-year low

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan’s greenhouse gas emissions dropped 1.2 percent to an eight-year low in the financial year ended March 31, 2018, government figures showed on Tuesday, due to an increased use of renewable energy and higher utilization of nuclear plants.

Emissions in the 2017 financial year declined for a fourth straight year to 1.292 billion metric tonnes of CO2 equivalent from 1.308 billion tonnes in the previous year, hitting their lowest since 2009, according to revised data released by the environment ministry.

Japan, the world’s fifth-biggest carbon emitter, has set a target to cut its emissions by 26 percent from 2013 levels to 1.042 billion tonnes by 2030. The latest figure represents an 8.4 percent reduction from 2013 levels, data showed.

Emissions had surged after the 2011 nuclear disaster at Fukushima that led to the closure of atomic power plants and an increased reliance on fossil fuel-fired energy, but have turned lower after hitting a peak of 1.410 billion tonnes in the 2013 financial year.

Japan has been criticized by environmental activists for its heavy use of coal-fired power generation and plans to build new coal-fired plants.

The nation’s final energy consumption rose 0.9 percent in the 2017 financial year from a year earlier, up for the first time since the 2011 nuclear disaster, as a severe winter boosted consumption in households, according to revised data from the industry ministry issued last Friday.

Domestic supply of primary energy climbed 1.2 percent in the 2017 financial year, with the supply from fossil fuels decreasing for four straight years and that from non-fossil fuels such as renewable and nuclear energy increasing for five consecutive years, the industry ministry said.

Renewable energy accounted for 16 percent of electric power generation of 1.0602 trillion kilowatt hour (kWh) in the 2017 financial year, up 1.4 percentage points year-on-year. Nuclear energy came at 3.1 percent, up 1.4 percentage points while thermal power was at 80.9 percent, down 2.8 percentage points, the industry said.

Reporting by Yuka Obayashi, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips