‘A form of self-destruction’: Japan weighs up plan to expand nuclear power

Japan’s prime minister is pushing for as many as 17 nuclear reactors to be switched back on, more than a decade on from the meltdown at Fukushima

Look carefully through the trees, and it is just possible to catch sight of Onagawa nuclear power plant from its visitors’ centre, perched on a hill surrounded by thick woods.

The plant’s supporters may have had its remote location, on a rugged peninsula in Japan’s north-east, in mind when they campaigned to bring nuclear power – and the promise of subsidies – to the town more than 40 years ago.

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Tokyo residents urged to wear turtlenecks to save on energy bills

‘Thermal effect’ of high-neck jumpers and scarves will save electricity during energy crisis, says governor

The governor of Tokyo has urged people to wear a turtleneck this winter to stay warm and reduce energy consumption.

Yuriko Koike said wearing turtleneck jumpers could help reduce energy bills.

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India’s energy conundrum: committed to renewables but still expanding coal

Critics says India’s plans to increase coal production to 1bn tonnes a year are environmentally devastating and unnecessary

Three days before India’s environment minister boarded a flight to Egypt for this year’s UN climate summit, Cop27, the country’s finance minister was busy with a new announcement.

“India needs greater investment in coal production,” said Nirmala Sitharaman at the Delhi launch of India’s biggest ever coalmine auction, where 141 new sites for coalmines will be sold off to the highest bidder.

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Is China doing enough to combat the climate crisis?

While it appears committed to renewable energy goals, China’s international commitments fall short of what experts say is needed

After decades of fossil fuel-driven economic growth and industrialisation, China is now the world’s biggest carbon emitter, contributing almost a third of the world’s greenhouse gases in 2020.

It is also the most exposed to the impact of the climate crisis, in terms of its population size and number of environmental disasters, according to UN figures. Average temperatures and sea levels have risen faster than global averages, and in just one year since Cop26, China has experienced record-breaking floods and heatwaves, bringing with them severe energy crises.

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Lady of the Gobi: trucking coal across the desert to China

On Mongolia’s coal highway to the Chinese border, truck driver Maikhuu dreams of a better life and financial security for her three children. However, the road from the mines to China is riddled with accidents, toxic pollution, poor hygiene and now, amid the Covid crisis, drivers face days of quarantine on the border. Trapped in a hazardous industry, Maikhuu’s journey reflects the human and environmental costs of Mongolia’s mining boom

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Lady of the Gobi: trucking coal across the desert to China

On Mongolia’s coal highway to the Chinese border, truck driver Maikhuu dreams of a better life and financial security for her three children. However, the road from the mines to China is riddled with accidents, toxic pollution, poor hygiene and now,  amid the Covid crisis, drivers face days of quarantine on the border. Trapped in a hazardous industry, Maikhuu's journey reflects the human and environmental costs of Mongolia’s mining boom

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‘It’s getting extremely hard’: climate crisis forces China to ration electricity

Forest fires, droughts and heatwaves across the country is forcing provinces to reduce power consumption

There were still some streetlights on the Bund, one of the main roads in central Shanghai. But the decorative lights which light up the city skyline – blue, pink, and red – were turned off for two days to cope with the peaking power demand.

The power restriction imposed by the city authorities, was the first in Shanghai, the financial hub of China. But across the rest of the country similar restrictions have been put in place, as cities, notably in the south-western region, grapple with ongoing power shortages caused by devastating droughts this summer.

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Japan eyes return to nuclear power more than a decade after Fukushima disaster

Move designed to secure energy supplies would mark a dramatic shift in Japan’s policy stance held since 2011 reactor meltdown

Japan is considering building next-generation nuclear reactors and restarting idled plants in a major policy shift, 11 years after the triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant rocked the country’s dependence on atomic energy.

The prime minister, Fumio Kishida, said he had directed a government panel to look into how “next-generation nuclear reactors equipped with new safety mechanisms” could be used to help Japan achieve its goal of carbon neutrality by 2050. His “green transformation” council is expected to report back by the end of the year, he said on Wednesday.

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Climate crisis ‘insufficient’ to halt oil and gas exploration, says New Zealand government

Despite declaring a climate emergency, government is in court defending decision to issue fossil fuel prospecting permits in Taranaki

New Zealand’s government has argued that the climate crisis is of “insufficient weight” to stop it issuing oil and gas exploration permits – despite declaring a climate emergency and committing to eliminate offshore exploration.

The government is in court defending its 2021 decision to allow fossil fuel companies to prospect for oil and gas in Taranaki. A group of students sued over the decision, saying the ministry failed to adequately consider the climate impact of the exploration, or give enough weight to crucial documents including advice from the climate commission and the International Energy Agency’s Net Zero By 2050 report.

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Blackouts in China as heatwave pushes electricity usage to record levels

High temperatures expected to continue for at least another week with more than 300 cities forecast to reach 35C

A long-running heatwave in China has pushed electricity usage to record levels in some areas and led to blackouts, with warnings that the high temperatures are expected to continue for at least another week.

More than 300 cities were forecast to reach temperatures above 35C on Tuesday. China Southern Power Grid Company said Monday’s usage had surpassed last year’s peak load by 3%. The Guangdong province power grid also hit a record high, reaching 142m kilowatts, an increase of 4.89% over last year’s peak load. Blackouts were reported in the provincial capital, Guangzhou, which has recorded a full week of maximum temperatures above 37C, including highs of 40C on Sunday and Monday.

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Human rights groups criticise EU’s Azerbaijan gas deal

Agreement with autocratic ruler to double supplies within five years comes as EU seeks to reduce reliance on Russian energy

Human rights groups have criticised an EU deal to ramp up gas supplies from Azerbaijan, as Europe scrambles to secure non-Russian sources of energy.

The European commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, on Monday hailed Azerbaijan as a “crucial” and “reliable” energy supplier, as she announced an agreement with Baku to expand the southern gas corridor, the 3,500km pipeline bringing Caspian Sea gas to Europe.

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Fukushima nuclear disaster: ex-bosses of owner ordered to pay ¥13tn

Firm’s president at time of disaster among five defendants found liable for £80bn in damage by Tokyo court

A court in Japan has ordered former executives of Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) to pay ¥13tn (£80bn) in damages for failing to prevent a triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in 2011.

The ruling by Tokyo district court centred on whether senior Tepco management could have predicted a serious nuclear accident striking the facility after a powerful tsunami.

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Chinese premier calls for more coal production as electricity demand soars

Records for electricity usage broken in Shandong, Henan and Jiangsu in early summer heatwaves

China’s premier has called for increased production of coal to stave off mass blackouts, as early summer heatwaves have prompted record electricity usage.

On Friday authorities again issued high temperature warnings for about a dozen provinces across the central and northern provinces, after consecutive days in the high 30s.

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Penny Wong tells Pacific nations ‘we have heard you’ as Australia and China battle for influence

Foreign minister uses speech in Fiji to declare ‘this is a different Australian government’ that will act responsibly on climate change

The new foreign affairs minister, Penny Wong, has promised to treat Pacific island countries with respect, telling an audience in Fiji that Australia is “a partner that doesn’t come with strings attached” and won’t “impose unsustainable financial burdens”.

Wong promised to respect Pacific priorities and institutions as she set out an implicit contrast with China, which is pursuing a sweeping regional economic and security deal with Pacific nations that would dramatically expand Beijing’s influence and reach into those countries.

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