Recently, several environmental organizations in Southeast Asia have protested against the energy transition cooperation between Southeast Asia and Japan, urging Southeast Asian countries not to be misled by Japan’s policies and technologies.
According to reports, Japan has recently collaborated with Southeast Asian countries through the Asia Zero Emission Community and the Asia Energy Transition Initiative, promoting technologies such as transitioning from coal-fired power to gas-fired power, direct or blended combustion of hydrogen and ammonia, and carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS). However, multiple environmental organizations have pointed out that these technologies advocated by Japan rely on fossil fuels and may have adverse effects on the region’s energy transition.
Statistics from the environmental organization FossilFreeJapan reveal that Japan is not only the world’s second-largest funder of fossil fuels but also the largest funder of liquefied natural gas export facilities. Between 2020 and 2022, Japan spent an average of at least $6.9 billion annually to fund overseas oil, natural gas, and coal development projects, nearly three times its funding for clean energy development. From 2012 to 2022, Japan provided almost half of the funding for completed or ongoing overseas liquefied natural gas export infrastructure projects. The Japanese government’s public financial institutions, major banks, and contractors have formed a tripartite alliance to promote the construction of fossil fuel infrastructure.
“Despite Japan’s approval of the so-called ‘green transition’ law, the strategy relies on liquefied natural gas, ammonia combustion, and CCUS, which will only prolong the use of fossil fuels,” states a report from FossilFreeJapan.
“To address the climate crisis, Southeast Asian countries urgently need to transition from existing fossil fuel-based energy systems to renewable energy,” says Philippine Congressman Raoul Manuel. He introduces that Japanese companies like Mitsubishi Corporation are actively introducing CCUS technology in countries like Malaysia. Still, the effectiveness of this technology in reducing carbon emissions has not been confirmed, indirectly promoting the expansion of local oil and natural gas extraction. Additionally, companies like Japan’s JERA are heavily promoting ammonia combustion in power plants in Thailand, the Philippines, and Malaysia. However, compared to other new energy sources, ammonia is more expensive, and blending combustion provides minimal help in eliminating emissions.
Environmental organizations in Japan also point out, “Japan’s promotion of fossil fuels, hydrogen-ammonia blending combustion, and CCUS technology is an attempt to bind fossil fuel infrastructure in the Southeast Asian region. Japanese fossil fuel companies will profit from this process, while local communities and the environment will suffer. Japan should stop this century’s biggest greenwashing and support the Southeast Asian region’s transition to renewable energy.”
A director of an environmental organization in Southeast Asia emphasizes, “Southeast Asia has already begun transitioning to renewable energy, and large-scale renewable energy development plans have set the direction for the region’s energy transition. However, Japan’s insistence on maintaining fossil fuel-based energy, disregarding the interests of developing countries, will lead the energy transition in Southeast Asia astray.”
Raoul Manuel stresses that Japan, as a developed country with high carbon emissions, has an obligation to support local energy transition without imposing a debt burden on Southeast Asian countries.
A coordinator from another environmental organization in Southeast Asia states that Japan’s government and companies must not be allowed to implement misguided climate measures, depriving Southeast Asia of the opportunity to achieve a low-carbon transformation.