Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

From the Spectator:

Japan has just raised its target for reducing carbon emissions from 26 per cent to 46 per cent (by 2030 from 2013 levels). But how was this figure arrived at, environment minister Shinjiro Koizumi was asked? Through a careful analysis of the threat and a realistic assessment of what could be achieved, taking all relevant factors into consideration? Well, er no, according to Koizumi, the number 46 just appeared to him in ‘silhouette’ in a sort of vision.

Shinjiro Koizumi, son of former prime minister Junichiro Koizumi, made the comments in an interview with the TV station TBS last weekend. The interviewer, despite her face mask, was clearly stunned by the revelation that the country’s emission target did not appear to have any scientific basis. She asked the minister to confirm what he had said; and he did.

Clearly, the country is in the best of hands …

So once again I take up my quixotic quest to stop countries from emulating lemmings and following each other jumping off the cliff. Here is the ugly truth.

In 2013, Japan emitted 1.3 gigatonnes (GT, 109 metric tonnes) of carbon dioxide (CO2). In the most recent year, Japan emitted 1.1 GT of CO2. To get to the magic number of 54% of 2013 emissions, they have to cut emissions down to where they’re emitting 709 megatonnes (Mt, 106 metric tonnes) per year. So they need to reduce their emissions by 396 Mt/yr. (Note that this does not mean reducing emissions by 396 Mt every year. It means reducing their yearly emission rate by 396 Mt.)

How much do they need to reduce their fossil fuel use to do this? Well, Japan emits about 245,000 tonnes of CO2 per terawatt-hour (TWh, or 1012 watt-hours) of fossil fuel energy use. That means that they’ll have to reduce fossil fuel use by about 1,620 TWh per year. (Current Japanese fossil-fuel use for energy is about 4,540 TWh/yr.)

To calculate the extra CO2-emission-free generation capacity they’ll need, we have to divide the terawatt-hours/year by 8,760 hours per year to convert to TWh of generation capacity … and then double it.

Why double it? Because that’s average usage, and any electrical grid needs to be able to handle peak use plus have reserves available for when some part of the generation system inevitably fails or needs maintenance. You need about double the average usage to cover peak use plus required reserves. So that means they’ll need about 369 gigawatts (GW, or 109 watts) of new emission-free generation capacity.

Susquehanna steam electric nuclear power station

Now, the only currently available CO2-emission-free baseline power source is nuclear power. Oh, you can add meaningless expensive unreliable intermittent renewables to it if you wish, wind and solar. But you still need the baseline power for when the sun don’t shine and the wind don’t blow …

From now until the first day of 2030 is 452 weeks. Japan needs 369 additional GW of nuclear power to meet the goal.

And that means that to achieve Minister Koizumi’s dream-driven target, Japan would have to find a site for, get all permits and licenses for, excavate, manufacture, install, test, and commission a brand-new 1.6 GW nuclear plant every two weeks from now until 2030. (By comparison, each of the six nuclear reactors at the Fukushima plant was half of that, 0.8 GW …)

A. New. Nuclear. Plant. Every. Two. Weeks. Until. 2030.

Yeah, that’s totally legit …

In the US, from the preliminary feasibility studies to the final hookup of a nuclear power plant typically takes more than ten years. Here’s an overview of the process … and people in the industry have said it’s optimistic.

Not only that, but switching from burning fossil fuels to nuclear power for heating and transportation means that the entire electrical grid will have to be upsized, including substations, switching, transmission lines, transformers, and power lines both into and around the houses. The costs of building the nuclear plants plus upsizing the electrical grid will be a stupendous burden for generations to come.

Look, somebody in charge has got to stand up and say “This is airy-fairy impossible feel-good madness!” Me’n my gorgeous ex-fiancee are watching “The Right Stuff” tonight … how did we ever get from that kind of personal strength to our current politicians who perfectly embody “The Wrong Stuff”? Very few of these modern pussycats have the albondigas that Maggie Thatcher had—they just like to prance, and pose for the camera, and virtue signal with noble-sounding woke policies that can never be implemented.

As I’ve said about this claim in other countries, Minister Koizumi’s vision-given plan is like a 12-year-old boy putting on blue tights with red skivvies on top of them, donning a cape, proudly declaring he’s Superman, and jumping out of a fourth-story window …

… ain’t gonna fly, and there’s going to be lots of pain for everyone involved.

And all of this to fight an imaginary “climate emergency”.

Sigh … sadly, it seems innumeracy roolz …

Regards to all,


My Previous Equally Quixotic Analyses: The calculations for the world going to net-zero by 2050 are in my post Bright Green Impossibilities. The calculations for the US to get to 50% of 2005 CO2 emissions by 2030 are in The Latest US CO2 Fantasy.

And the unmeasurably-small theoretical cooling by 2050 if the US went to zero CO2 emissions tomorrow is calculated in Going To Zero. TL;DR version—as you go up in altitude the air gets cooler. The US going to zero emissions tomorrow would theoretically cool the globe by 2050 by the same amount as you’d get by climbing up three flights of stairs …

My Usual Request: When you comment please quote the exact words you are discussing. This avoids at least some of the misunderstandings that plague the intarwebs.

Data: All of the data for these analyses are available from Max Roser’s most informative website, “Our World In Data”. Fossil fuel use is here, and CO2 emissions are here.

Lemmings: Yeah, I know they aren’t lining up to jump off a cliff to their deaths, that was just a Disney fantasy … but the US, UK, Japan, and many other countries sure are.

via Watts Up With That?

May 2, 2021