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Japan targeting low carbon future

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Japan's Environment Minister backed on last Monday plans to extend a coal-fired power plant, saying that it would not greatly affect a target of reducing Japanese greenhouse gas emissions by 60% to 80% by 2050.

The intervention came during a government environmental assessment of chemical maker Tokuyama Corporation's plan to expand a coal plant capacity by 50% to 817,000 KW by 2012. Power firms are seeking to cut the amount of carbon they produce by generating electricity less at coal-fired plants, which emit more emissions than other sources of energy such as liquefied natural gas or nuclear fuels.

Mr Tetsuo Saito environment minister of Japan said in a statement that Tokuyama could extend its coal-fired plant because it would replace a less efficient older plant. Mr Saito said that it was also difficult for the company to use other fuels due to a limited space at the plant, which generates power only for Tokuyama's use.

Mr Yoshihiro Yamamoto head of the ministry's environment assessment office said that "It's an exceptional case, so we should make it clear why it can go ahead with the coal thermal plan." He said that "In general, we're against plans for new coal plants, which would affect the country's emissions in the long term."