Japan’s powerful Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has revised its draft energy plan for 2030, increasing renewable energy’s share of the nation’s energy mix and dramatically cutting the role of coal and gas – with implications for Australian fossil fuel exporters.

The draft plan sees coal and gas each lose a 7% market share, while renewables are expected to do almost all the work of cleaning up Japan’s electricity system this decade. Nuclear’s share of the energy mix is tipped to remain roughly as is.

The Australian Conservation Foundation’s exports campaigner Elizabeth Sullivan said coal demand from Japan has been cited as an argument to expand coal mines in Australia.

“Japan is Australia’s biggest coal customer and more than 60% of the coal burned in Japan is imported from Australia, but things are changing fast,” she said.

“Australian coal burned in Japan generates roughly as much climate pollution as all Australia’s carbon emissions every year.

“Japan is the main customer for Australia’s LNG industry, but now it is getting out of gas.

“This revised draft energy plan suggests Japan is moving quickly to replace its fossil fuel energy with renewable energy, including hydrogen and ammonia, which could be made and shipped from here, using Australia’s abundant renewable resources.

“The Australian government has not helped our export industries prepare for the global shift away from polluting fuels, with fossil fuels still receiving the lion’s share of government financing and investment.

“Japan’s revised draft energy plan slashes every fossil fuel export the Australian government has been trying to grow with this major trading partner.

“In the age of exponential demand for clean energy, renewable energy export industries need to be scaled up as soon as possible, or Australia will lose its competitive advantage.”

Last month civil society groups in Australia and Japan teamed up to release a report that examined the damage caused by coal mining in Australia and coal consumption in Japan, shining a light on the costs of Japan’s reliance on Australian coal.

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