Japan views hydrogen and rechargeable batteries as tools to fight climate change

A hydrogen-powered Toyota Sora bus. Toyota is hoping demand for next generation hydrogen vehicles will increase, boosting the number in Tokyo from the current 15 to 100 by next summer. (AFP)
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Updated 14 January 2020

Japan views hydrogen and rechargeable batteries as tools to fight climate change

  • State Minister explained Japan's contribution to fight against climate change at the recent IRENA conference in Abu Dhabi
  • Kenji Wakamiya said Japan was working on using hydrogen and improving rechargeable battery technology

DUBAI: Hydrogen-fueled cars and rechargeable batteries are two of the ways Japan’s State Minister for Foreign Affairs says his country is proposing in the fight against climate change.

Kenji Wakamiya said Japan was working on using hydrogen and improving rechargeable battery technology to create alternative sources of energy, with examples rolled out at this year’s Tokyo Olympics.

“In Fukushima, a hydrogen production facility is scheduled to begin operations this year,” he said, adding that the hydrogen produced from this facility would be used as fuel for vehicles during the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics this year.

Wakamiya, who was speaking at the 10th annual assembly of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in Abu Dhabi, said Japan had “been actively” promoting the use of renewable energy as a major power source, while recognizing Japan as being prone to natural disasters.

“The proportion of variable renewable energy such as solar and wind power has increased tenfold (in Japan) since 2010,” he said, adding how they were able to “overcome the difficult energy circumstances of the Great East Japan Earthquake.”

The Great East Japan Earthquake was a magnitude 9 earthquake off the coast of Japan, believed to have been the fourth most powerful in the world.

“Japan is one of the countries severely affected by climate change, such as the recent devastating damage from storms and floods, and is taking measures against it as an urgent issue,” Wakamiya explained.

The Japanese minister added that the country was aiming to become a completely “decarbonized society as early as possible in the second half of the century.”

He said another important issue was the disposal of renewable energy equipment including “large amounts” of solar panels, wind turbines, and storage batteries that have limited shelf life.

“Considering and tackling the issue of future disposal of such equipment is as important as accelerating the usage of renewable energy if we really care about the environment,” he said.

Japan is leading the way in this field, according to the minister, saying they will “ensure that the reuse, recycling, and proper disposal and treatment of used (renewable energy materials)
are executed.”

In the UAE, Dr. Nawal Al-Hosani, Permanent Representative of the UAE to IRENA, said the Gulf country was prepared to deal with the recycling of such materials.

“The first photovoltaic (PV) farm we have is only 11-years-old. It’s a bit early for us to retire our plants, we are just building them. But every plant we are building, we are pursuing the latest technologies. I’m sure once our plants reach their maturity and they need to be replaced, there will be plans in place to find another use of them,” she said.

“We are talking about very recyclable materials. We have glass, steel, so all the materials and products that have been used to build the PV plants are easily recycled.”

Al-Hosani also described Japan as a “strong partner” for the UAE in its fight against climate change, adding “Japanese companies are very much involved with the UAE leadership on
different technologies.

“There is a lot of partnership with the private sector,” she told Arab News on the sidelines of the IRENA 10th Assembly, where representatives from over 150 countries were discussing the global push for “energy transformation.”

Both countries also agreed on the importance of helping developing countries access renewable energy technology.

“People in remote areas – they find solar panels expensive, but they are actually spending even more in diesel and gasoline,” Al-Hosani said, addressing what she said was a common misconception about renewable energy.

“Once they see the return of investment and look at it on a longer term, they will find out that it’s much less expensive to use renewables,” she added.

“What the UAE is doing to help and support nations with limited to no access to renewable energy is a lot – most of our aid now goes into infrastructure projects. There is a lot of investment and aid fund focused on renewable energy, such as the $50 million Caribbean fund, and $50 million Pacific fund,” she said.

Japan, on the other hand, was also keen on making sure that developing countries would have access to “climate finance.”

“We have implemented technical cooperation through the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to support the usage and operation of renewable energy and access to climate finance in developing countries,” Japanese Minister Wakamiya said.

Al-Hosani of the UAE mission to the IRENA said: “More and more donor countries need to understand how they can support developing nations.”

“The UAE has shown an example of ensuring our aid is translated into infrastructure projects, and focused on clean energy to help advance it.”

Financial Action Task Force tightens screws on Tehran over terror financing

Updated 3 min 5 sec ago

Financial Action Task Force tightens screws on Tehran over terror financing

  • Watchdog says Iran failed to fulfill its promises to curb terror financing despite repeated warnings
  • Iran central bank chief Abdolnasser Hemmati said the decision will not affect the country

PARIS: An international agency monitoring terrorism funding announced tough new financial scrutiny of Iran on Friday and added seven countries to a watch list.

Pakistan, meanwhile, won a reprieve from the Financial Action Task Force at its meetings in Paris this week. The monitoring body gave Pakistan’s government another four months to crack down on terrorism financing and did not put the country on a damaging “black list.”

Iran and North Korea are the only two countries currently on the agency’s black list. That means international financial transactions with those countries are closely scrutinized, making it costly and cumbersome to do business with them. International creditors can also place restrictions on lending to black-listed countries.

The FATF decided on Friday to further tighten the screws on Iran, imposing extra measures that could require audits or more transactions and make it even harder for foreign investors to do business there.

The group made the decision because Iran failed to fulfill its promises to the FATF despite repeated warnings. In a statement, the organization said that Iran hasn’t done enough to criminalize terrorist financing, require transparency in wire transfers or freeze terrorist assets targeted by UN sanctions.

The head of Iran’s central bank, Abdolnasser Hemmati, said the decision will not affect the country.

“Such incidents will create no problem for Iran’s foreign trade and currency,” he said in a statement. Hemmati said the FATF decision was based on the “enmity” of the US and Israel toward Iran.

Pakistan, meanwhile, has been trying to get off the FATF gray list, the color code for countries that are only partially fulfilling international rules for fighting terrorism financing and money laundering.

Pakistan’s government has been working to shore up the country’s faltering economy and attract foreign investment and loans, making the FATF’s assessment especially important.

The FATF said that Pakistan had fulfilled 14 of 27 steps to get off the watch list, but still must do more to track money transfers and investigate and prosecute terrorism financiers.

The Pakistani government said in a statement that it “stands committed for taking all necessary action required” to fulfill the remaining steps. “A strategy in this regard has been formulated and is being implemented.”

The Financial Action Task Force also put seven new countries on its gray list because of gaps or failures in stemming the financing of terrorist groups or money laundering. The countries — Albania, Barbados, Jamaica, Mauritius, Myanmar, Nicaragua and Uganda — were ordered to take a series of legal and other steps to be removed from the list and avoid further financial punishment.