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Nuclear Shutdown Means Japan Must Abandon Carbon Emission Targets

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In 2009 the Japanese government signed a pledge to cut their carbon emissions by 25 percent by 2020, however following the disaster at Fukushima in 2011 and the subsequent collapse of public confidence in nuclear power, this target may have to be abandoned.

Nuclear power plants used to provide a large portion of Japanese electricity, and formed the backbone of their renewable energy sector and the plans to reduce carbon emissions. After the meltdown at Fukushima all 54 of the nation's nuclear reactors were shut down in order to undergo maintenance and testing, and have yet to be restarted.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration has now released figures which suggest that the gap left by nuclear power is being filled by larger use of fossil fuels. From January to April of this year the amount of electricity generated from natural gas, coal, and oil based power plants was up 40 percent compared to the same time last year. Fossil fuels now provide 90 percent of Japans electricity, rather than the 64 percent from last year.

Japan's deputy Prime Minister, Katsuya Okada, said that the target of 25 percent was "a number computed on the premise that we will depend on nuclear power to a fair degree. I have no doubt that an overall review will be necessary," given the change in circumstances.

Lucky for them Japan had already decided to opt out of signing an extension of the international emission cuts target under the Kyoto Protocol. Although they haven't given up on renewable energy and will introduce various clean energy subsidies with the aim of encouraging a 13% increase in production by 2013.

By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com

James Burgess is an analyst with Oilprice.com. He is a successful small cap investor with a focus on early stage renewable energy companies.

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