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Report: Japan funding air pollution in foreign countries including Bangladesh

  • Published at 07:57 pm August 20th, 2019
Air pollution
File photo: Bangladesh, one of the most densely-populated countries in the world, has been struggling with air pollution for a long time, while Dhaka has continued to rank among the most polluted cities Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

Countries like Indonesia, Vietnam, Morocco, India, and Bangladesh host Japanese-financed coal power plants

Japan and its public finance agencies (PFAs) are exporting pollution, particularly air pollution, by funding coal-fired power plants to other countries.

This was stated in a joint report by Greenpeace Southeast Asia and Greenpeace Japan titled "A deadly double standard: How Japan's financing of highly polluting overseas coal plants endangers public health," published on Tuesday.

The report also revealed that Japan's PFAs $16.7 billion investment in coal plants in foreign countries between January 2013 and May 2019 is responsible for 148,000 to 410,000 premature deaths over their 30 year operation period.

The Japanese government along with the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and Nippon Export and Investment Insurance (NEXI) are financing coal powered power plants in countries like Indonesia, Vietnam, Morocco, India, and Bangladesh despite coal being the single worst contributor to global climate change while being responsible for almost half the world’s carbon dioxide emissions, the report stated.

Though Japan has developed technologies to reduce toxic emissions in their own coal fired plants followed by stricter environmental regulations, but they are sponsored inferior technologies in the above mentioned countries, which has resulted into these Japanese-financed coal power plants emitting up to 13 times more nitrogen oxides (NOx), 33 times more sulfur dioxide (SO2) and 40 times more dust than those plants built in Japan, the report added.

The most premature deaths due to Japanese investments are projected to occur in India (160,000) and Indonesia (72,000), followed by Vietnam (36,000) and Bangladesh (14,000) over the 30 years of coal power plant operations due to long-term exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution, the report said. 

Addressing the issue, Greenpeace Japan Senior Energy Campaigner Hanna Hakko said: "It is unfortunate to see the gap between Japan’s promises of exporting quality infrastructure and the reality of low-quality coal technology exports.  

"Japan should honour its trading partners and citizens of those countries by promoting energy technologies that stop hurting people’s health and the environment."

"Japan could become a champion for renewables, but that requires giving up the harmful export of polluting coal technology,” he added.

Japan is currently the only G7 country that is still actively building new coal power plants at home and abroad, and is the second largest public investor in overseas coal projects among the G20 countries. 

Greenpeace Southeast Asia’s Regional Climate and Energy Campaign Coordinator Tata Mustasya, said: "If it is not good enough for Japan, it is not good enough for Indonesia. 

"Governments in the host countries of Japan’s coal projects must protect their citizens by setting stronger emission standards and rapidly transitioning away from coal to clean and renewable energy. This change in policies and investments has to happen now, for human and environmental health, and to safeguard the future of our planet."

The non-governmental environmental organization demanded that both Japan and countries receiving Japanese coal financing shift immediately away from coal toward clean renewable energy sources stating this is the only way to avoid the severe health impacts of coal emissions, including hundreds of thousands of premature deaths and most importantly to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.