“Business as usual” amidst the climate crisis 気候危機でも「いつも通り」 


Around the world, justice movements have been increasingly pressuring governments to address the climate crisis. However, it was barely mentioned in the recent Japanese elections. This is despite the fact that:

●Japan is historically responsible for being the fifth largest cumulative emitter of CO2. The disproportionate impact of the climate breakdown in the Global South has been predominantly caused by the historical emissions of the Global North, including Japan [1].
●In 2020, climate-related disasters such as floods, storms, landslides, and wildfires displaced 30.7 million people around the world. This was three times more than the displacement caused by conflict and violence (Red Cross, 2021).
●Increasingly, these impacts will be felt more acutely in Japan:
 3.9 billion people will be at risk of extreme heatwaves by 2040 around the world, including 30-40% of the Japanese population if current emissions continue.
 Sea level rise will put 300 million people at risk of coastal flooding and displacement by 2050, particularly in the Asia Pacific.

To avoid the “tipping point” of irreversible climate catastrophe, emissions must be sharply reduced to limit further global heating (below 1.5℃ from pre-industrial levels). This requires complete decarbonation by 2050, i.e. no more fossil fuels can be burned. While gas and oil must also be rapidly phased out, the UN urges OECD countries like Japan to end the use of coal entirely by 2030.

Yet, the recent elections are telling of Japan's “business as usual” attitude in the face of this existential crisis. This is not specific to Japan. The “greenwashed” COP26 evidenced this on its disproportionate inclusion of fossil fuel lobbyists at the exclusion of civil society, as well as the insistence of the EU, UK, and US to exclude oil and gas as fossil fuels to “phase out”, as they still choose to depend on it.

In Japan, what is concerning is that the climate crisis still suffers a lack of credibility as an emergency at the mainstream political level. Just a week prior to the election, the former PM Aso “gave thanks” to climate change for “making rice tastier” in Hokkaido. Or, at the 2019 COP25, the former Environment Minister of Japan stated, “In Japan, coal power is not seen as problematic as the international community does” (Vox, 2019).

●Coal emits the largest amount of CO2 out of all energy sources (followed by oil and gas)
●Japan is the 5th largest CO2 emitter globally (coal makes up around 40% of its emissions)

This lack of awareness is apparent in the fact that Japan is the only G7 country still actively pushing to keep coal as an energy source domestically and internationally (E3G, 2021).

●Currently 9 coal-fired plants are under construction to add to the 165 plants in operation in Japan, with no plans for decommissioning (Japan Beyond Coal, 2021). The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry’s future energy source plan shows coal making up 19% of the national supply structure in 2030.
●The Japanese government (JBIC/JICA) have been one of the biggest providers of public finance for fossil fuel projects across Asia ($10.9 billion each year on average from 2018-2020), despite local opposition for health and climate concerns (Tucker, 2020) [2]
●In the past 2 years, the top 3 global lenders to the coal industry have all been Japanese “megabanks” (collectively amounting to around $76 billion in loans) [3]

So, it comes as no surprise that a leak of comments to the draft IPCC Sixth Assessment Report showed Japan, along with Australia, Iran, and Saudi Arabia, lobbying against climate action. The report assesses the options to limit global heating; emissions must peak by 2025, and coal and gas-fired plants must be decommissioned by 2030 to keep the Paris Agreement 1.5℃ goal within reach. Rejecting the call for a “rapid phase out of fossil fuels”, Japan reportedly requested sections of this report be taken out for “policy neutrality” (Greenpeace, 2021).

Such actions to continue the use of coal and other fossil fuels, while clean alternatives of renewables (e.g. biomass, wind, solar, hydro, geothermal) are increasing in availability and cost efficiency tells us that this crisis is not inevitable. Like the very system of exploitation at the root of this crisis, it is not passive; it is actively chosen by and to benefit those in power. The fossil fuel industry continues “business as usual” because they are backed by financial institutions and enabled by government policies pandering to profit.

If Japan chose to, it could be in line with the 1.5℃ goal. To do so, transformational changes must take place in all sectors by 2030 by ending its use of coal, reducing energy consumption, and switching to local renewable energy. A report by Climate Action Tracker on Japan states that while it will be challenging, it can still be achieved (CAT, 2021).

For this to occur, the mainstream political level in Japan must be pressured from below to recognise the climate breakdown as a crisis, a political imperative. What can be recognised as an emergency in need of urgent addressing depends on how it is discussed in everyday conversations. This includes coming to a clear understanding who is accountable. There is a need to discuss climate breakdown as an ongoing failure of governments, including ours, to enact policies owning up to the historical and continuing responsibilities they have towards humanity.

On a broader scale, as has long been said by the activists of the Global South, indigenous leaders, and global justice movements, the way we relate to nature and to each other must be reimagined. The deeply unjust and inequitable system of extraction, exploitation, and consumption [4] must be restructured in order to sustain humanity’s life support systems.

Recognising that the climate crisis is an ongoing consequence of active political choices – to maintain this structure that profits the few and hurts the many – enables us to discuss, mobilise, and vote differently. That includes thinking about who to ally with and how causes are interconnected. It requires us to reflect on what is owed to whom, whether to young people, communities who have least contributed to the climate breakdown, or to ourselves. It allows us to reimagine the possibilities of how things can be instead.

“The ultimate, hidden truth of the world is that it is something that we make and could just as easily make differently” David Graeber (2015)

[Learn more, discuss, act collectively]

It’s clear that the responsibility for addressing this crisis lies beyond individual lifestyle choices. We need structural changes. That said, there are small actions we can take collectively – to do less harm and to create pressure. Here are some things we have choices over in our everyday lives:

・Electric power companies
Since 2016, individual households can choose their energy company. Power-Shift Campaign provides information on options for electric power companies with renewable energy sources. As of 2021, there are 7 renewable energy companies to choose from in the Chugoku region.
・Bank accounts
350 Action, which runs a divestment campaign, provides information on Japanese banks’ policies and involvement in coal and other fossil fuel industries. The Banking on Climate Chaos: Fossil Fuel Finance Report (2021) includes other countries’ banks (List).
・Reducing consumption
While individual lifestyle choices alone will not be enough and government green policies are needed, for those of us in major economies, rethinking habits is necessary (Nature, 2019). For example, if collective meat consumption can be reduced in favor of more plant-based diets, it can have an impact on reducing household carbon footprints and deforestation (IPCC, 2019).
・Learn more, discuss, and join local movements: Beyond Coal Japan, Kiko Network, FoE Japan, 350 Action JP, Fridays for Future Japan.


[1] Cumulative calculations of CO2 emissions from 1751 to 2017 puts Japan after the US, the EU, China, and Russia. The Global North, including Japan, is historically responsible for 92% of excess carbon emissions. “Which countries are historically responsible for climate change?” (Carbon Brief, 2021).
[2] Japanese megabanks are also among the top financiers of fossil fuel projects globally: MUFG (6th), Mizuho (8th), and SMBC (18th) (Bank Track, 2021)
[3] In the past 2 years, the world’s top 3 lenders to the coal industry were all Japanese megabanks: Mizuho (US $22 billion), SMBC (US $21 billion) and MUFG (US $18 billion) (Urgewald, 2021)
[4] The richest 1% will release 70 tonnes of CO2 per person a year at current consumption levels; together, the 1% will account for 16% of total emissions by 2030 (The Guardian, 2021)


●2020年には、洪水、暴風雨、地滑り、山火事などの気候関連の災害により、世界中で3,070万人が避難しました。これは、紛争と暴力によって引き起こされた避難の3倍でした(Red Cross、2021)。



日本では、政治の主流レベルでは気候危機が緊急事態であるという認識がまだ希薄であることが懸念されます。選挙のちょうど一週間前、麻生元総理は、「温暖化のおかげで北海道の米がうまくなった」と気候変動に「感謝」していました。あるいは、2019年のCOP25で、元環境大臣は、「日本では、石炭火力は国際社会ほど問題とは見なされていない」と述べています (Vox, 2019)。


この認識の欠如は、日本が国内外で、依然として石炭をエネルギー源として維持することを積極的に推進している唯一のG7国であるという事実から明らかです(E3G, 2021)。

●現在、日本で稼働している165の発電所に加えて、9つの石炭火力発電所が建設中であり、廃止措置の計画はありません(Japan Beyond Coal, 2021)。経済産業省の将来のエネルギー源計画では、2030年には石炭が国の供給構造の19%を占めることが示されています。
●日本政府(JBIC/JICA)は、健康と気候への懸念に対する地元の反対にもかかわらず、アジア全体で化石燃料プロジェクトに最大の公的資金を提供してきました(2018年から2020年までの平均で毎年109億ドル)(Tucker, 2020 )[2]

また、IPCC第6回評価報告書草案へのコメントの漏えいで、オーストラリア、イラン、サウジアラビアとともに、日本が気候変動対策に反対するロビー活動を行っていることが明らかになりました。報告書では、地球温暖化を抑制するための選択肢を評価しています。排出量は2025年までにピークに達し、パリ協定の1.5℃の目標を達成するには、石炭およびガス火力発電所は2030年までに廃止される必要があります。日本は、「化石燃料の急速な段階的廃止」の呼びかけを拒否し、「政策中立性」のためにこの報告書の一部を削除するよう要請したと報じられています(Greenpeace, 2021)。


日本が選択すれば、1.5℃の目標に沿うことができます。そのためには、2030年までに石炭の使用をやめ、エネルギー消費を削減し、地域の再生可能エネルギーに切り替えるという変革が、すべてのセクターで行われなければなりません。日本に関するClimate Action Trackerの報告によると、困難ではあるが、それでも達成は可能であると述べています (CAT, 2021)。




“The ultimate, hidden truth of the world is that it is something that we make and could just as easily make differently” David Graeber (2015)
世界の究極の隠された真実は、それが私たちが作るものであり、同じように簡単に別の方法で作ることができるということです。」 デヴィッド・グレーバー、ルールのユートピア



2016年以降、個々の世帯がエネルギー会社を選択できるようになりました。パワーシフトキャンペーンは、再生可能エネルギー源を備えた電力会社向けのオプションに関する情報を提供します。 2021年現在、中国地方には7つの再生可能エネルギー会社があります。
ダイベストメントキャンペーンを実施する350Actionは、日本の銀行の方針と石炭などの化石燃料産業への関与に関する情報を提供しています。 Banking on Climate Chaos:Fossil Fuel Finance Report(2021)には、他国の銀行も掲載されています(リスト
個々のライフスタイルの選択だけでは不十分であり、政府のグリーン政策が必要ですが、経済大国に住む私たちにとって、習慣を見直すことは必要です(Nature, 2019)。たとえば、肉の消費を減らし、より植物性の食事にすることができれば、家庭の二酸化炭素排出量と森林破壊の削減に影響を与えることができます(IPCC, 2019)。
・詳細を学び、話し合い、地元の運動に参加しましょう:Beyond Coal Japan、Kiko Network、FoE Japan、350 Action JP、Fridays for FutureJapan.

[1] 1751年から2017年までのCO2排出量の累積計算では、日本は米国、EU、中国、ロシアに次ぐ排出量となる。日本を含むGlobal Northは、歴史的に過剰な炭素排出の92%に責任がある。"気候変動に歴史的に責任があるのはどの国か" (Carbon Brief, 2021)。
[2] 日本のメガバンクも、世界的に化石燃料プロジェクトに融資している上位の銀行である。MUFG(6位)、みずほ(8位)、三井住友銀行(18位)(Bank Track、2021)。
[3] 過去2年間、世界の石炭産業への融資先トップ3は、すべて日本のメガバンクである。みずほ(220億ドル)、三井住友銀行(210億ドル)、MUFG(180億ドル) (Urgewald, 2021)
[4] 1%の富裕層は、現在の消費レベルでは1人当たり年間70トンのCO2を排出する。2030年には、1%合わせて総排出量の16%を占めるようになる(The Guardian、2021)。

ソシエタス総合研究所 研究員秋吉 湖音
日本で生まれ、海外で育つ。King’s College London (BA in War Studies & Philosophy) 卒業後、King’s Undergraduate Research Fellowとして、ロンドンで移民達がいかに暮らしを営んでいるかの理解を目的として、特に法的なステータスとジェンダーのインパクトに焦点を当てつつ、Migrant Voices in Londonのプロジェクトを主催。つづいて、オックスフォード大学にて MSc in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies を修める。2021年4月からソシエタス研究所で研究員として勤務。
日本で生まれ、海外で育つ。King’s College London (BA in War Studies & Philosophy) 卒業後、King’s Undergraduate Research Fellowとして、ロンドンで移民達がいかに暮らしを営んでいるかの理解を目的として、特に法的なステータスとジェンダーのインパクトに焦点を当てつつ、Migrant Voices in Londonのプロジェクトを主催。つづいて、オックスフォード大学にて MSc in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies を修める。2021年4月からソシエタス研究所で研究員として勤務。
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