Japan’s environment ministry has withdrawn its objections to the construction of new coal-fired power capacity in the country after heavy negotiation with the ministry of economy, trade and industry, according to reports.

The environment ministry had raised concerns in 2015 over several planned coal power projects, but has reportedly now endorsed a voluntary emissions reduction system.

Under the new system, Japan’s power sector will aim to reduce its emissions by 35 per cent from 2013 levels by 2030. A new trade body composed of the 36 firms that supply almost all of Japan’s power has also been formed, with the aim of implementing emission control measures.

The industry ministry plans to more strictly regulate new and existing coal-fired plants from 1 April, but the tightened rules on heat efficiency will be non-binding.

Many analysts remain unconvinced that Japan can meet its climate goals in this way.  However, the country is going ahead with new coal-fired power projects, and environment minister Tamayo Marukawa was quoted as saying that his ministry would “monitor and check annually on progress. If we find the power industry cannot reach its goal, we will consider new measures,” he said.  

Japan currently has 20.5 GW of planned coal-fired capacity in its development pipeline, with proposals stepping up as it moves toward liberalizing its power market in April.