VICTORY: Mighty Earth Statement on the Cancellation of Japanese Coal Plant at Matarbari, Bangladesh

Yesterday, the Japanese government announced an end to their overseas coal finance, resulting in the cancellation of the Matarbari 2 coal power plant. The Matarbari 2 coal plant had been the symbol of Japan's failure to quit coal. The withdrawal of Sumitomo Corporation as lead contractor on February 28 after an intensive global campaign made the end of this project likely.

"This is an inspiring victory that brings Japan's era of overseas coal finance to an end. We celebrate that Bangladeshis will not have to suffer from the burden of air pollution, toxic mercury pollution and increased debt this plant would have caused," said Roger Smith, Japan Director for Mighty Earth. "Japan needs to hasten the retirement of existing coal plants at home and abroad without resorting to duplicitous technologies including biomass, hydrogen and ammonia that displace emissions to other countries rather than reduce them.”

Mighty Earth is a global advocacy organization that works to stop climate change and deforestation. In December 2019, Mighty Earth launched a global campaign demanding Sumitomo Corporation end its reliance on dirty coal and wood biomass. We worked in close collaboration with allies in Bangladesh, Japan and across the globe to press for the cancellation of this project and a rapid transition to clean, renewable energy.

Victory! Sumitomo Corporation Withdraws from Matarbari 2 Coal Plant Project

March 1, 2022

On February 28, 2022, Sumitomo Corporation announced a revision to its climate policy closing the loophole to its "no new coal" pledge. That exception would have allowed the company to proceed with the proposed Matarbari 2 power plant (units 3& 4) in Bangladesh.

"We applaud Sumitomo's belated realization that the construction of new coal plants runs counter to any realistic climate change strategy,” stated Mighty Earth's Japan Director, Roger Smith. “As this week's IPCC report warns of the imminent impacts of climate change, Sumitomo needs to accelerate its adoption of non-biomass renewable energy, hasten the retirement of existing coal plants and transition away from all polluting fossil fuels," Smith continued.

Environmental organizations in Japan, Bangladesh and globally had criticized Sumitomo for its lead role overseeing construction of the Matarbari 1 coal plant (units 1 & 2) and called upon the company to not have any involvement in the planned Matarbari 2 coal power plant.

The Matarbari coal plants are relics from a different era, made increasingly obsolete by a glut of power capacity in Bangladesh, long delays and cost overruns, and the declining cost of renewable energy relative to expensive fossil fuel imports.

Mighty Earth exposed the controversy over these power plants in a report released to shareholders in advance of Sumitomo's annual general meeting in June 2021. A shareholder resolution by environmental NGO Market Forces called upon the trading company to align its policies with Paris Agreement goals and garnered the support of 20% of investors, holding $2.5 billion in Sumitomo shares.

Now attention turns to whether the Japanese government will still push forward with the project. Japanese NGOs have called upon the Japanese government and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) not to move forward with financing for the project. Japan has faced international criticism that Matarbari 2 is inconsistent with last year's G7 leaders’ agreement to build no new coal plants, as well as a pending complaint at the US Securities and Exchange Commission against JICA’s inclusion of coal projects in JICA bonds marked as coal-free to investors.

Sumitomo Faces Shareholder Revolt Over Empty Climate Action Rhetoric

Mighty Earth Report Underscores Investor Concerns at Fossil Fuel Dependence

UPDATE: March 2022:
Sumitomo Corporation updated its climate policy to eliminate the loophole that would have allowed them to construct the Matarbari 2 power plant. Mighty Earth applauds this development and urges them to hasten its withdrawal from coal power generation globally.

UPDATE: June 2021

At Sumitomo Corporation's 2021 annual general meeting, 20% of shareholders, representing an estimated $2.53 billion in shares, voted in defiance of management and supported the resolution on climate change.
While it was positive to see Sumitomo respond to pressure and announce a shift away from the coal and natural resource side of the business and towards renewable energy, much more needs to be done to be consistent with the Paris Agreement.
Investors need to push Sumitomo to rule out involvement in the Matarbari 2 coal plant in Bangladesh, exit from all coal generation globally by 2040 (not the late 2040s), end its involvement in wood biomass, and adopt a no deforestation ("NDPE") policy. See our report for our full recommendations for Sumitomo regarding climate change.

Read the report

(Washington D.C) –Japanese conglomerate Sumitomo Corporation will face unprecedented investor pressure at its Annual General Meeting on June 18 for its failure to take adequate steps to reduce its massive global carbon emissions footprint, the Washington, D.C. environmental campaign organization Mighty Earth said today.  That pressure comes in the form of the first-ever climate resolution targeting a Japanese trading company by shareholders demanding that the firm align its strategies with the objectives of the 2015 Paris Agreement. The Paris Agreement aims to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius, and pursue a limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.

The resolution reflects growing investor impatience with companies failing to implement substantive climate action policies. The resolution comes on the heels of last year’s resolution at Mizuho Financial Group and comes just ahead of a similar resolution at Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group later this month.

A Mighty Earth report released today underscores the urgency of that shareholder resolution by detailing Sumitomo’s deep involvement in the dirtiest and most environmentally destructive forms of energy production across its global operations. The report, “Smokescreen: Sumitomo’s ‘Carbon Neutral’ Failures,” reveals how Sumitomo is one of the chief industrial facilitators of Japan’s addiction to coal through business lines ranging from ownership of massive coal mines to owning and constructing highly polluting new coal-burning power plants in Southeast Asia, to importing wood to be burned in coal plants.

“Sumitomo is a company at the center of global coal and biomass networks that mine, chop, finance, ship and burn the most destructive fuels on earth,” said Roger Smith, Mighty Earth’s Japan Project Manager.” “We’re starting to see shareholders question Sumitomo Corporation’s environmentally-friendly platitudes about achieving ‘carbon neutrality,’ in three decades’ time while simultaneously laying plans to continue highly-polluting fossil fuel operations for another twenty plus years. Sumitomo needs to adopt a stringent climate plan that quickly moves the company away from fossil fuels and towards clean, renewable energy.”

In May 2021, Sumitomo updated its climate plan to meet its professed goal of “contributing to addressing the many issues related to climate change mitigation and the realization of a carbon-neutral society.” But the new report lays out how the actual climate policy is still far from Paris-aligned and allows the firm to burn forests for fuel, start construction of two new coal power plant units in Bangladesh, increase the share of natural gas in its portfolio, operate thermal coal mines until 2030, and run coal power plants until the late 2040s. Sumitomo continues to rely heavily on imported forest biomass despite its high near-term carbon emissions and lacks a no deforestation policy with safeguards against degrading sensitive forest ecosystems, including those in North America.

While little known outside Japan, the company has begun to dramatically increase imports of wood pellets from the U.S. and Canada as “biomass fuel” where wood is burned in power plants to produce electricity. A Sumitomo pellet-producing company recently faced criticism for its plans to log old-growth forests in British Columbia, and Sumitomo’s chief supplier in the Southeastern United States uses whole trees from already distressed ecosystems.

With wood pellet production in both the U.S. and Canada rapidly increasing, and Japan serving as the world’s fastest-growing market for pellets, scientists have sounded the alarm. This February, 500 academics wrote an open letter to President Biden, Prime Minister Suga, and other world leaders to warn them against shifting from burning fossil fuels to burning trees stating, “Trees are more valuable alive than dead both for climate and for biodiversity. To meet future net-zero emission goals, your governments should work to preserve and restore forests and not burn them.”

That message is echoed by Meg Fukuzawa of the environmental finance organization Market Forces. “We are at a critical point where near-term targets are critical to reaching the goals of Paris, and Sumitomo’s are clearly insufficient,” Fukuzawa said. “Sumitomo’s plans are not only catastrophic to the climate, but investors should be worried about the possibility of finding themselves exposed to stranded assets if Sumitomo does not phase-out of fossil fuels on Paris-aligned timeframes.”

Not only do these projects have an appallingly-high environmental price, but Sumitomo is also paying a financial cost for its refusal to shift its operations to more environmentally friendly production modes. In FY 2020, Sumitomo Corporation lost ~$236 million (USD) on coal power in Australia, ~$73 million (USD) from sales of Marcellus and Eagle Ford oil and natural gas projects in the US, and ~$491 million (USD) related to costs and delays constructing power plants, including Matarbari 1 in Bangladesh. These losses constituted more than half of Sumitomo’s overall losses of ~$1.4 billion (USD) (153 billion yen).

“Sumitomo has a clear choice,” Smith said. “It can respond to shareholder concerns and reduce its global carbon emissions footprint in line with the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement and reposition itself as a renewable energy market leader, or cling to its heavily-polluting 20th-century industrial blueprint and continue to rack up financial losses and deepening shareholder antipathy with every year of continued delay.”


For inquiries, email [email protected]tyearth.org

JICA faces US Securities complaint over allegations of ‘misleading’ investors on coal

JICA faces US Securities complaint over allegations of ‘misleading’ investors on coal

Today, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) faces a first-of-a-kind complaint to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The complainants claim that JICA stated its bond issued on US markets was coal-free, when in fact, proceeds will likely flow to coal-fired power stations in Bangladesh.

“JICA included this clause in its bond prospectus to convince investors concerned about the devastating climate impacts of coal to purchase the bond,” said Yuki Tanabe, Program Director, JACSES. “The agency can’t be allowed to get away with such flagrant greenwashing.”

Japan’s overseas development agency issued a US dollar bond in April 2021, explicitly stating in its prospectus that JICA “will not knowingly allocate any proceeds from the sale of the bonds to activities related to coal-fired power generation.” However, the complaint points to reports indicating that JICA will continue to fund coal power generation projects in Bangladesh and Indonesia, and to JICA’s own financial statements which suggest that the bonds will be used, at least in part, to fund new coal power projects.

JICA is currently lending to an under construction 1,200 MW coal project in coastal Bangladesh, Matarbari, and just yesterday made an additional loan to this project.

JICA is also reportedly looking to finance a further 1,200 MW coal power project in the same region by March 2022. The Matarbari project has come under fire for faulty environmental and social assessments and inadequate compensation. Moreover, JICA has not ruled out providing finance to a 1000MW coal power station in Indramayu, Indonesia.

“We hope global bondholders take this as a warning they may still be backing new coal power if they buy JICA bonds, despite what JICA’s been telling them,” said Julien Vincent, Executive Director of environmental finance group Market Forces. “Many holders of these bonds will have their own mandates and commitments to avoid coal. If JICA continues financing coal power plants, it would not just violate the terms of this bond, but the best efforts of investors’ commitments to stay out of coal.”

Executives from five global and Japanese NGOs (Friends of the Earth Japan, Friends of the Earth US, JACSES, Market Forces, and Mighty Earth) have collaborated to bring this complaint, and are represented by US securities lawyer, Kevin Galbraith.

“As far as we’re aware, this complaint is the first time a governmental organization has been the target of a whistleblower complaint filed with the SEC, but given the SEC’s crackdown on disclosures of climate-related risk, we don’t anticipate that this will be the last,” said Mr. Galbraith. “The SEC’s September 2021 guidance indicates that truthful and complete disclosure of climate related risk is non-negotiable for companies seeking to comply with their obligations to ensure that their statements are not misleading.”

The complainants “urge the SEC to investigate these issues as soon as possible, and to impose on JICA appropriate sanctions for its material misrepresentations.”

Given the seriousness of this claim and the reports of imminent finance for Phase 2 of the Matarbari coal power project, the complainants urge “the SEC seek that JICA makes no further investments in coal pending investigation.”

At and leading up to the recent COP26 summit held in Glasgow, Japan has been the subject of global protest because it continues to fund coal power.

“Japan and its corporations will be left behind if they continue to pump money into coal power at this late date,” said Glenn Hurowitz, Chief Executive Officer for Mighty Earth. “If the only way to sell dirty coal-filled bonds is to lie to investors, it means markets have moved on from coal and Japan needs to move on, too.”

For further information please contact:

Glenn Hurowitz, Executive Director - Mighty Earth
[email protected]

気候変動対策団体、クリーンテック&クリーンスチールの 画期的な計画に参加した日本を称賛


気候変動対策団体、クリーンテック&クリーンスチールの 画期的な計画に参加した日本を称賛

[東京] - 2021113 - マイティ・アースをはじめとする気候変動対策団体および市民社会組織は、本日、日本が「グラスゴー・ブレイクスルー」に署名したことを歓迎します。今回のクリーンテクノロジーを導入するというコミットメントは、気候変動の影響を受けやすい多くのセクターを対象としています。中でも鉄鋼は、それだけで世界の温室効果ガス排出量の7%を占めており、脱炭素化が最も難しいセクターの1つとされています。



気候ソリューション(Solutions For Our Climate)のマネージング・ディレクターであるキム・ジュジン氏は次のように述べています。「鉄鋼部門は、韓国の年間温室効果ガス排出量の13%を占めています。私たちは韓国がグラスゴー・ブレイクスルーに取り組むことを歓迎し、鉄鋼部門の脱炭素化を支援する具体的な政策を期待しています」。




  • オーストラリア ー オーストラリアン・コンサベーション・ファウンデーション、ビヨンド・ゼロ・エミッションズ、カーボン・マーケット・インスティチュート、クライメート・アクション・ネットワーク・オーストラリア、グリーン・ビルディング・カウンシル・オブ・オーストラリア、グリーンピース・オーストラリア・アンド・パシフィック
  • 日本 ー 気候ネットワーク、WWFジャパン
  • 韓国 ー 環境運動連合(唐津支部、光陽支部、浦項支部)、気候ソリューション
  • 国際 ー グリーン・アライアンス、グリーンピース・イースト・アジア(日本・韓国)、マーケット・フォーセズ、マイティ・アース



ロジャー・スミス(マイティ・アース)ー [email protected]





Climate advocates praise Japan for joining breakthrough steel plan



[Tokyo] – 3 November 2021 – A coalition of climate advocates and civil society organizations, including Mighty Earth, today welcome the signature of Japan to the “Glasgow Breakthrough Agenda” This commitment to deploy clean technology covers many tricky climate-intensive sectors, notably steel – which alone accounts for 7 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and is considered one of the more challenging sectors to decarbonise.

Announced at the Leaders’ Summit segment of the COP26 climate talks, the Glasgow Breakthrough Agenda is a commitment to work together internationally to accelerate the development and deployment of the clean technologies and sustainable solutions needed to meet the Paris Agreement goals, ensuring they are affordable and accessible for all. It states the need for near-zero emission steel as the preferred choice in global markets, with efficient use and near-zero emission steel production established and growing in every region by 2030.

Earlier this week, a group of civil society groups from across Australia, Japan and the Republic of South Korea encouraged their respective governments to sign on to the Breakthrough Agenda. The agreement could reduce the first movers’ risk for companies willing to decarbonise if government signatories agree to similar decarbonization timetables and announce national policies to assist with implementation.

Joojin Kim, managing director of Solutions for Our Climate said: “The steel sector accounts for more than 13% of Korea’s annual greenhouse gas emissions. We welcome the Republic of Korea committing to the Glasgow Breakthrough and look forward to seeing concrete policies that will support the sector’s decarbonisation.”

Roger Smith, Japan Director of Mighty Earth said: “To achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, each country needs to begin the shift to low-carbon steel today. We welcome the commitment of the Government of Japan to the Breakthrough Agenda as we see tremendous potential for Japan to lead the way globally on material efficiency and the recycling and utilization of steel scrap.”


Full list of signatories by country:

  • Australia - Australian Conservation Foundation, Beyond Zero Emissions, Carbon Market Institute, Climate Action Network Australia, Green Building Council of Australia, Greenpeace Australia and Pacific
  • Japan - Kiko Network, WWF Japan
  • Republic of Korea - Korean Federation for Environmental Movement (Dangjin, Kwangyang and Pohang branches), Solutions for Our Climate
  • International - Green Alliance, Greenpeace East Asia (Japan and Korea), Market Forces, Mighty Earth



Roger Smith, Mighty Earth - [email protected]


Mighty Earth is a global environmental campaign organization that works to protect forests, conserve oceans, and address climate change. Learn more about their global steel campaign: www.mightyearth.org/steel


Climate Catalyst is an international organisation focused on accelerating action on climate change through policy change. More information: www.climatecatalyst.org

Korean and Japanese civic groups urge President Moon and Prime Minister Kishida to end support for biomass

Media Release: Korean and Japanese civic groups urge President Moon and Prime Minister Kishida to end support for biomass

Credit: Conservation North

October 21, 2021 

Despite enhancing their climate goals, Japan and South Korea are increasingly burning forest biomass for electricity, devastating forest ecosystems and carbon sinks globally, environmental groups point out. Advocates delivered a joint statement demanding the two countries’ governments shift away from the unsustainable fuel source.

As Japan and South Korea head to the COP26 climate change summit in a week, environmental groups from both countries urged for the end of large-scale biomass given its impacts on greenhouse gas emissions and forest ecosystems in a briefing organized by Solutions for Our Climate (SFOC), Global Environmental Forum (GEF), Mighty Earth, Biomass Industrial Society Network (BIN), and Korea Federation for Environmental Movements (KFEM).

“We are very concerned about the massive increase in demand by Korea and Japan for forest biomass and the impacts this is having on the health of forests in Canada, the Southeastern United States, Vietnam and beyond,” said Roger Smith, Japan Director for Mighty Earth, at the briefing on Thursday. This day kicked off the International Day of Action on Big Biomass, where groups in Australia, Europe, North and South America, Africa, and Asia highlighted biomass’s deforestation, climate, and biodiversity impacts through various campaign actions and events.

“Burning forest biomass to make electricity also worsens climate change by releasing stored carbon into the atmosphere, so we urge both countries to stop building more biomass power plants and apply strict greenhouse gas emissions limits to existing biomass-burning power plants,” Smith added.

In South Korea, electricity from biomass increased more than 75 percent annually between 2012 and 2019. Such growth has led to over 3 million tons of wood pellet imports and a dramatic increase in domestic wood pellet production. Similarly, Japan saw an increase in imported wood pellets from 72,000 tons to 2 million tons per year between 2012 and 2020.

Soojin Kim, senior researcher at SFOC, noted that Renewable Energy Certificates for biomass are main drivers of its rapid growth in Korea: “Biomass in Korea currently receives duplicate subsidies from both the energy and forest sectors, and support for biomass limits the development of renewables like solar and wind.”

Referring to data submitted to National Assembly Member Soyoung Lee by Korea South-East Power Co., Kim also expressed concerns about the sustainability of biomass: “Air pollution and carbon emissions per unit of energy from biomass are higher than for coal. Local residents are opposing construction plans of biomass power plants.” Kim added that both imported biomass and domestic pellets are often sourced from unsustainable forestry practices, such as clear cutting.

Miyuki Tomari from Biomass Industrial Society Network (BIN) explained that similar to Korea, the current institutional support in Japan promotes power generation using imported biomass: “Imported biomass does not lead to Japan’s energy self-sufficiency, has limited benefits for local communities, and tends to have higher lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions.”

In a joint statement presented at the briefing, the environmental groups urged Prime Minister Kishida Fumio of Japan and President Moon Jae-In of South Korea to implement renewable energy policies that protect forests before the upcoming COP26 summit. They called on the leaders to ensure that “all types of renewable energy contribute to near-term emissions reductions, and to show strong political commitments on forests and land-use through actions such as halting deforestation by 2030.”

“Importing over five million tons of biomass together a year, Korea and Japan are among the largest bioenergy importers. However, while the international community is accelerating the move to end unsustainable biomass, Korea and Japan are bucking this trend,” said Hansae Song, research associate at SFOC. “In order to avoid the stigma of being ‘biomass climate villains,’ and of course, to actually achieve 2050 carbon neutrality, it is urgent that the two governments change their renewable energy policies.”

For media inquiries, contact:

Roger Smith, Japan Director, Mighty Earth [email protected]

Euijin Kim, Communications Officer, Solutions for Our Climate, [email protected]

A recording of the briefing is available here:

The full NGO statement is available here:

Japan-South Korea NGO Statement on Biomass

Japan: Stop Funding Coal

Japan: Stop Funding Coal

Japan: Stop Funding Coal

October 21, 2021

Climate activists around the world demonstrated outside Japanese embassies to demand that the Japanese government stop funding and constructing dirty coal plants overseas. Mighty Earth and allies organized a protest at the Washington D.C. Embassy with an eye-catching projection calling for Japan to stop funding coal.

Japan needs to abide by the G7 leaders’ statement, a commitment it entered into this June to end direct investment in new coal plants. Despite this, the Japanese government is considering providing loans for new coal plants in Matarbari, Bangladesh and Indramayu, Indonesia.

With Prime Minister Kishida having just taken office in early October, all eyes are on Japan to demonstrate the seriousness of its climate commitments heading into COP 26.

Now is Japan’s chance to shift to clean energy and align its investments with the nation’s goal of achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

For more information, please visit https://nocoaljapan.org/cop26/

Progress on Climate - Sumitomo Pulling Out of Australian Coal Mine

For Immediate Release

August 24, 2021

Progress on Climate- Sumitomo Pulling Out of Australian Coal Mine

Tokyo. Mighty Earth praises Sumitomo Corporation’s recent announcement it would sell its stake in the Rolleston thermal coal mine in Queensland, Australia.

“Sumitomo recently updated its climate policy to exit coal mining by 2030 and we applaud this concrete step towards that goal. Limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees C will require deep near-term pollution cuts so we call upon Sumitomo to hasten its exit from coal mining and coal power generation,” stated Mighty Earth’s Japan Project Manager, Roger Smith.

In June 2021, Mighty Earth released a report “Smokescreen: Sumitomo’s ‘Carbon Neutral’ Failures” on Sumitomo’s continued fossil fuel dependence and outlined steps the company needs to take on climate change.






(ワシントンDC)– 本日、公開されたマイティ・アース(Mighty Earth)の報告(英文)では、住友商事株式会社が世界各地の事業活動で、最も深刻な環境汚染や環境破壊の原因となる形態のエネルギー生産に深く関与していることを詳細に述べ、今回の株主提案がどれほどの緊急性を帯びるものであるのかを強調している。「隠蔽の煙幕:住友商事の『カーボンニュートラル』失敗の数々」と題された同報告では、同社は大規模な炭鉱を所有し、深刻な環境汚染を引き起こす石炭火力発電所を新たに東南アジアに建造し、石炭火力発電所で混焼する木材を輸入するなど、様々な事業分野において、日本の産業の石炭への依存を最も強力に支えている企業の1つであることが紹介している







環境保護団体Market Forcesの福澤恵氏からも、同様の声が上がっている。「私たちは臨界点にいるため、パリ協定の目標を達成するのに必要な短期、中期目標が緊要です。住友商事の現在の計画はこの目標を達成するのには明らかに不十分です」と福澤は述べる。さらに福澤は「住友商事の計画は、気候にとって大惨事を引き起こすものであるのみならず、パリ協定に沿っていない、整合性のないタイムラインの化石燃料資産の撤退計画を考えると、座礁資産リスクへのエクスポージャーを抱える投資家に対しても危険である」と警鐘を鳴らしている。


マイティー・アース(Mighty Earth)
[email protected]


Joint Statement re: 2021 Revisions to Biomass Plan Development Guidelines (Japan's Feed-in-Tariff)

Japan’s Ministry of Trade, Economy and Industry’s (METI) issued revised “Business Plan Development Guidelines” for biomass power generation under the feed-in-tariff on April 1st, 2021. The undersigned organizations found the revisions inadequate regarding climate change and biodiversity and urge the speedy adoption of greenhouse gas emission limits and stronger criteria regarding the environmental sustainability of biomass fuel.


In October 2020, the Japanese government announced a goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. However, the feed-in-tariff renewable electricity incentive program, which began in 2012, includes no assessment of greenhouse gas emissions. We have particular concerns about biomass power generation, as this form of thermal power generation has potential impacts on forests, ecosystems and biodiversity, and has emissions of greenhouse gases throughout its lifecycle. The Agency for Natural Resources and Energy under METI convened a “sustainability working group” which has held deliberations regarding the sustainability of biomass fuel under the feed-in-tariff. Unfortunately, the guidelines for biomass generation did not undergo significant changes from last year, and lack any sort of greenhouse gas emissions limits, potentially making it more difficult to achieve Japan’s 2050 climate target, protect forests or further the sustainable use of forests.

Japan’s rapid expansion of biomass imports has drawn international concern. In February 2021, more than 500 academics issued a letter (English, Japanese) to Prime Minister Suga and other world leaders warning of deforestation from the use of biomass fuel. In addition, in September 2020, 17 environmental organizations from the United States sent a letter (English, Japanese) to the Japanese government asking for wood pellets to be removed from the feed-in-tariff due to concerns about their impacts on American forests.

Lifecycle Greenhouse Gas Limits Needed

The current biomass guidelines lack any limits for greenhouse gas emissions. To address climate change, there needs to be a strict upper limit on lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions limits covering all biomass fuel types. The combustion of biomass originating from forests (primarily wood pellets and wood chips) is especially problematic as it rapidly releases carbon stored in the forests into the atmosphere and also risks the release of carbon accumulated in the soil over a long period of time. Even if forests regrow completely after logging, the time period for this can range from decades to more than one hundred years, so it cannot be said that forest biomass is carbon neutral.

In addition, in cases where the production of biomass fuel causes changes in land-use, including conversion of forests, emissions will be even greater. Furthermore, most of the biomass projects are using fuel imported from overseas and have high greenhouse gas emissions from transportation. We strongly urge the Sustainability Working Group to adopt a strict greenhouse gas emission standard this year in order to contribute towards the 2050 carbon neutrality target.

Palm Oil Should be Removed from the Feed-in-Tariff

We welcome the change in guidelines that limits new biomass fuel types to be included in the feed-in-tariff to “inedible byproducts.” However, we note that palm oil, an “edible primary product,” is still included. This is a major contradiction and palm oil should be removed from eligibility. Under the guidelines, only palm oil that demonstrates sustainability with RSPO or RSB certification can be used. However, neither of them are able to solve the problem of competition between fuel and food and additionally, there are no greenhouse gas thresholds under RSPO criteria.

Sustainability Standards Needed for All Biomass Fuels

After two years since the start of the Sustainability Working Group, there is now a requirement to obtain sustainability certificates for palm oil and palm kernel shells (PKS). However, despite the feed-in-tariff for biomass overwhelmingly supporting the burning of wood, there has not even been any consideration of standards to protect forest ecosystems and biodiversity. There are many important issues to address including protecting forests’ long-term stores of carbon, preventing the conversion of natural forests to tree plantations, stopping forest loss and degradation from logging, preventing the destruction of forest habitat, protecting biodiversity, and more.

In addition, despite the fact that the guidelines specify that certifications for imported woody biomass fuel are required, in reality there have been problematic examples of plants which are operating without forest sustainability certificates and with only proof of legality. A survey found some cases of only “chain of custody” certificates that lack the corresponding “forest management” certificates needed to cover issues related to sustainability in the forests the fuel was sourced from.

To solve this problem, the guidelines need to clarify what is meant by certifications for woody biomass. Deliberations and the implementation of sustainability standards for all types of biomass fuel eligible under the feed-in-tariff are needed urgently.

Transparency and Certification System & Ensuring Compliance

Under these guidelines, power plants using palm oil biomass are required to publish the name of the third-party certificate, the amount of certified fuel, and the identification number for the certified fuel on their website. However, since outside parties cannot access information about the oil processing plant or plantation from the identification number alone, it cannot be said that it ensures transparency. To avoid serious problems like human rights abuses, deforestation and the development of peatlands, etc., it is necessary to require information regarding processing plants and plantations of suppliers to be made public. We ask for similar information disclosure for all types of imported forest-derived biomass.

In addition, at present there is no method for confirming compliance with the measures required by the guidelines under the feed-in-tariff. In the case of byproducts like PKS, where certification requirements are currently postponed, there is a condition requiring the disclosure of details about voluntary efforts and the origins of the fuel (such as the plantation it is from) on the firm’s webpage, but many power plants do not publicize this data. Also, last year the Fukuchiyama City and Maizuru City palm oil plants in Kyoto Prefecture, respectively, stopped operation or were cancelled, and both cases had inadequate consultation with nearby residents. In Fukuchiyama, the neighbors were afflicted with noise and odors which progressed to mediation over pollution-related issues. So as not to have situations like this, it is necessary to establish a system to ensure compliance with the guidelines and sustainability/legality certification with corrective actions for non-compliance.

Compliance Deadlines Should Not be Extended

Until now primary products (palm oil) were required to be certified by March 31, 2021, with a deadline for March 31, 2022 for secondary products (PKS), but they were both extended one year to March 31, 2022 and March 31 2023, respectively. The reason given was that COVID-19 made the procurement of certified products difficult, but extending the grace period means that fuel lacking sustainability certificates will continue to be used. As a result, affected biomass plants can be thought of as having a negative influence on forest ecosystems, biodiversity and human rights. Even with the pandemic, ensuring sustainability should be a basic pre-condition, so it is not necessary to extend this compliance period.

In fiscal year 2020, the discussions of the Sustainability Working Group in 2020 never reached a point where clear criteria regarding lifecycle greenhouse gas standards could be introduced. In addition, there were no deliberations about resolving the many problems related to the sustainability of woody biomass. We urge METI to reconvene this group in 2021 to discuss a greenhouse gas standard and sustainability standards for woody biomass, as both are urgently needed, especially for imported biomass fuel.

(organizations listed in alphabetical order)

Sponsoring organizations:

Biomass Industrial Society Network, Director Miyuki Tomari (Japan)
Friends of the Earth Japan (Japan)
Global Environmental Forum (Japan)

Endorsing organizations:

Australian Forests and Climate Alliance (Australia)
Bob Brown Foundation (Australia)
Dogwood Alliance (USA)
Environment East Gippsland (Australia)
Fridays For Future Sendai (Japan)
HUTAN Group (Japan)
Ichihara Coal Plant Concerns Group (Japan)
Japan Tropical Forest Action Network (Japan)
Kiko Network (Japan)
Maizuru City Western District Environmental Concerns Group (Japan)
Mighty Earth (USA)
Natural Resources Defense Council (USA)
Partnership for Policy Integrity (USA)
Pivot Point (USA)
Plantation Watch(Japan)
Rainforest Action Network (USA)
Sodegaura Residents Policy Study Group (Japan)
Soga Coal Power Plant Concerns Group (Japan)
Solutions for Our Climate (S. Korea)
Stand.earth (Canada)
Yokosuka Coal Plant Concerns Group (Japan)
Wilderness Society (Australia)
WWF Japan (Japan)


世界チョコレート成績表: 日本企業は児童労働と持続可能性の取り組みスコアが芳しくない結果に

世界チョコレート成績表: 日本企業は児童労働と持続可能性の取り組みスコアが芳しくない結果に

2021 年 3 月 19 日

マイティー・アース(Mighty Earth)

[email protected]


ワシントンDC – 環境問題と人権問題に先頭に立って取り組む非営利団体であるマイティー・アース(米国)、ビー・スレイバリー・フリー(オーストラリア、オランダ)、グリーン・アメリカ(米国)、インコタ(ドイツ)、および全米野生生物連盟(米国)が、毎年発表するチョコレート成績表を公開しました。チョコレート成績表は、世界最大手のカカオ取引会社、チョコレートメーカー、および小売会社を評価するものです。チョコレートメーカーはいまだにカカオ生産に関連する社会問題や環境問題の解決に至っていない実態が、成績表から明らかになりました。日本はアジア最大のチョコレート市場で、2018年の小売売上高は約5100億円を記録しました。しかし、日本企業は調査対象となった企業の最下位付近との結果になりました。



  • アルテル・エコ。米国に拠点を置く企業で、商品は米国とヨーロッパで流通しています。今回初めて優良賞を受賞しました。
  • トニーズ・チョコロンリー。オランダに拠点を置く多国籍企業で、2年連続で優良賞を受賞しました。
  • ウィッタカーズ。ニュージーランドに拠点を置く企業で、商品は主にオーストラリアとニュージーランドで販売されています。同地域は2年連続で優良賞を受賞しています。












  • 成績表の採点方法はこちらで公開しています。
  • イースター成績表2021(英語)はこちらで公開しています。
  • 昨年までの成績表(英語)はこちらで公開しています。202020192018
  • 日本とチョコレートに関する問題についてのファクトシートはこちらで公開しています。
  • 日本のチョコレートメーカーに関するプレゼンテーションはこちらで公開しています。



ビー・スレイバリー・フリーは、市民団体、コミュニティー、およびその他の組織からなる連盟で、ともにオーストラリア、オランダ、そして世界各地で現代版の奴隷労働の防止、廃止、撤廃に向け活動を行っています。ビー・スレイバリー・フリーには、現代版の奴隷労働の防止、撤廃、対策を現地で行ってきた経験があります。特に、サプライチェーンにおける奴隷労働に光を当てることに注力しています。ビー・スレイバリー・フリーが生み出した動きにより、オーストラリアでは現代奴隷法の可決が実現しました。2007年以降はチョコレート業界との取り組みを行い、カカオ生産における児童労働と奴隷労働の問題への対応を求めてきました。ビー・スレイバリー・フリーに関してさらなる情報は、https://beslaveryfree.com で公開しています。


グリーン・アメリカは、米国を代表するグリーン・エコノミー推進組織で、米国の消費者、投資家、企業、そして市場が誇る経済力を活用して、社会正義にかなった、環境面でも持続可能な社会の創出をミッションとしています。1982年に立ち上げられたグリーン・アメリカは、企業や個人に経済面の戦略、組織力、そして実践的なツールを提供することで、今日の社会問題や環境問題の解決を目指しています。グリーン・アメリカに関してさらなる情報は、http://www.GreenAmerica.org で公開しています。





連絡先:日本の連絡先:ロジャー・スミス、[email protected]


全米野生生物連盟は米国最大の自然保護団体で、600万人を超える会員を誇ります。様々な境遇の米国人が協力して、野生生物の声なき声をすくいあげる活動をしています。全米野生生物連盟は、1936年から最前線で野生生物のための活動をしてきました。その中で求めてきた自然保護を重んじる価値観とは、米国全体のこれまでの遺産の中に深く浸透しているものです。全米野生生物連盟が海外で行うプログラムにおいては、天然資源の経済学、リモートセンシングと全地球的情報システム、国際法、そして熱帯地域の生態学に関する専門知識を組み合わせることで、それぞれの市場に特化したソリューションや公共政策を推進し、熱帯雨林の喪失を食い止めています。全米野生生物連盟では、「森林破壊ゼロ」農業を推進し、森林や野生生物への影響が最も大きい作物に活動の焦点を当てています。全米野生生物連盟に関してさらなる情報は、https://international.nwf.org/about/ で公開しています。




















The Climate Group
Mighty Earth

大手工業企業・市民社会団体による、 重工業における脱炭素化に向けた新たな国際的枠組みのサポート





Alliance for an Energy Efficient Economy (インド)、Aldersgate Group (欧州)、Architecture 2030 (米国)、Carbon Leadership Forum (北米)、Clean Energy Canada、Corporate Leaders Group (欧州)、Envision (中国)、Global Efficiency Intelligence (米国)、Global Energy Monitor (米国・世界各国)、Godrej Industries (インド)、United Nations High Level Champions、Jinko Solar (中国)、JSW Energy (インド)、JSW Cement、LanzaTech (米国)、Mahindra Group (インド)、Smart Energy Council (オーストラリア)、Solutions for Our Climate (韓国)、Tata Steel (インド)。


国際非営利団体Climate Groupとキャンペーン団体Mighty Earthにより確立された重工業における脱炭素化に向けた国際的枠組みの原則(英語日本語)は、業界の専門家との密接な協力のうえで作成されました。一般公開された国際的なガイダンスにより、世界各国の鉄鋼、セメント、化学薬品などの重工業が1.5°Cの気候変動目標に沿った形で経済成長を促進するための明確なステップが提示されたのは、今回が初です。


Climate Group のエネルギー生産性イニシアティブ責任者、Jenny Chu 氏は次のように述べました。「新型コロナウイルス感染症の流行により、世界的な産業経済を改善するための変革や新たな発想が早急に求められるようになりました。この枠組みを調整し、非効率的で炭素排出量の多い産業資本への固着を避けるには、時間が限られています。世界中のリーダー達は、業界がひとつとなって動き、持続可能で公正かつ健全な産業の未来を実現するための競争が生まれるよう、協力と調整を行いながら、これらの原則を早急に行動に移す必要があります」

マイティ・アースのキャンペーンディレクター、Margaret Hansbrough氏は次のように述べました。「ここ数か月の間、鉄鋼やセメントなどの重工業企業から、ネットゼロ・カーボンニュートラルへのコミットメントが予想外に相次いで見られました。この枠組みによりこれらの企業や市民社会団体は、1.5°Cを超える温暖化から地球を守り、これらの気候へのコミットメントをかつてないほどの緊急性と行動を持って実現するために、真剣かつ協力的な政策措置に直ちに取り組む準備ができていることを、世界中の政治家達に明確に伝えています。ぜひ行動に移したいものです」

COP26ハイレベルチャンピオンのNigel Topping・Gonzalo Munoz両氏は、次のように述べました。「この方針の枠組みは、世界中の産業経済が何百万人もの生活を取り戻し、パンデミックによる不要な死を防ぎ、我々全員の生活がかかっている気候の緊急事態と戦おうと取り組んでいる今正にこの瞬間、積極的な目標を定め、緊急性を高める強力なツールとなり、歓迎すべきものです」

JSW EnergyのJMD/CEO、Prashant Jain氏は次のように述べました。「重工業における国際的枠組みの原則をサポートできることを光栄に思っています。産業により排出される温室効果ガスは地球全体の 3 分の 1 近くにも昇るため、地球温暖化を 1.5°C に抑えるための脱炭素化の取り組みを集中させるべき重要な分野です。JSW Energyでは、2050年までにカーボンニュートラルを実現させることを目指しており、Science Based Target イニシアティブの一環として科学に基づく目標を定めています」

LanzaTech, Inc. CEO、Jennifer Holmgren博士は次のように述べました。「LanzaTechは、米国に本社を置く革新的な企業です。重工業や航空業界をはじめとする必要不可欠な業界向けの炭素リサイクルソリューションを開発し、給与の高い雇用を生み出し、維持しています。地球を生物が生きられる環境に保つためには、弊社のような企業が専門知識と影響力を活かし、お互いに繋がり合った世界各国で最も効果的な気候政策を求めていくことが必要とされています。弊社は、世界中の企業や市民社会が重工業における脱炭素化に関する明確な方針の枠組みを制定するこの取り組みに参加できることを喜ばしく思い、バイデン・ハリス政権をはじめとする世界的なリーダー達と気候対策における重要な分野で協力できることに期待しています」

重工業は全エネルギーの約3分の1を消費し、全世界の温室効果ガス排出量の約4分の 1を占めています。そのため、脱炭素化の取り組みで重点を置くべき重要な分野となります。しかし、政治家達はまだ、自国の重工業における低炭素排出量での経済回復の方針を定めるどころか、それを気候政策の最優先事項にもしていません。今後数か月間にわたり、欧州、中国、日本、韓国、インド、北米で経済回復と気候政策について議論が行われる中、Climate Group、Mighty Earth、およびこれらの提携団体は、政治およびビジネスにおけるリーダー達にこの国際的な枠組みを受け入れるよう求めていく方針です。

Mighty Earthについて
マイティ・アースは、森林や海を守り、気候の変化に対処することに取り組んでいる国際環境キャンペーン団体です。当団体は、東南アジア、中南米、アフリカ、北米で、自然生態系や野生動物、水を守り、地域の権利を尊重し環境に配慮した農業を実現するため、大規模な取り組みを推進しています。マイティ・アースのチームは、世界最大規模の食品・農業企業に対し、環境および社会的方針・慣行の大幅な改善を求めるうえで重要な役割を果たしてきました。マイティ・アースに関する詳細はwww.mightyearth.org/ をご覧ください。

Climate Groupについて
Climate Group は迅速な気候対策を推進しています。当グループでは、2050 年までに炭素排出量をネットゼロにし、誰もがより繁栄できる世界を作ることを目指しています。そのために、排出量の最も多いシステムと、我々のネットワークが変化をもたらす最も大きなチャンスが秘められた分野に焦点を当てています。大規模で影響力の高いネットワークを築き、各組織が責任を持ち、コミットメントを行動に移すようにすることで、この目標に向け取り組んでいます。当グループではより多くの組織に可能性を認識してもらうため、活動の成果を公開しています。当グループは 2004 年に設立された国際非営利団体で、ロンドン、ニューデリー、ニューヨークにオフィスを構えています。また、We Mean Business 連合の加盟団体であることを誇りに思っています。Twitter: @ClimateGroup



2021 年 2 月 10 日


マイティー・アース(Mighty Earth)
[email protected]



東京、2021年2月10日—  バレンタインデーを前に、世界的な環境キャンペーン団体であるマイティ・アースとオーストラリアのビー・スレイバリー・フリー(Be Slavery Free)は、日本の主要な生産者やブランドを対象に人権や環境への影響を評価するツール「ジャパン・チョコレート・ガイド」の第一弾を発表しました。

バレンタインデー チョコレートガイド

マイティー・アースは、日本の主要なチョコレートブランドとカカオサプライヤーである不二製油ホールディングス(ブロマー・チョコレート・ホールディングス)、伊藤忠商事、明治、森永の4社を対象に、チョコレート業界が直面している最も差し迫った問題である、人権リスクの特定、透明性とトレーサビリティー、森林破壊と気候変動、アグロフォレストリー、生計維持所得ポリシー、児童労働と化学物質管理の7つの分野について、各企業の方針を調査しました。その評価方法はこちらで ご覧いただけます。






Be Slavery Freeはオーストラリアを拠点とし、世界各地で現代奴隷制の防止、中断、廃止に向けて活動する約30の組織からなる連合体です。また、オーストラリア現代奴隷法の制定にも関与しています。https://beslaveryfree.com/

Nippon Steel, Number Three Steelmaker Globally, Officially Commits to Carbon Neutrality

This week, President Eiji Hashimoto of Japan’s Nippon Steel released a plan to reach carbon neutrality by 2050. This announcement comes shortly after similar 2050 carbon neutrality pledges were made by Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, as well as the world’s largest steel company, ArcelorMittal. 

Roger Smith, Mighty Earth’s Japan Project Manager, had this to say in reaction: 

“As the largest steel company in Japan and third in the world, Nippon Steel is now publicly committing to being a global player in the mission to defeat climate change. We welcome Nippon’s pledge as a crucial step in building momentum for the entire steel industry, as well as its suppliers and customers like Toyota and other carmakers, to tackle its outsized impact on the Earth’s climate. 

Nippon needs to demonstrate its seriousness by not only reforming its practices, but also working from within to change Keidanran’s (Japan Business Federation) positions on climate policy. For all too long Keidanren has worked to delay action at the national level to phase-out coal and scale-up domestic renewable energy.

“We are glad to see Nippon taking hydrogen research, development, and deployment seriously -- but are cautious of over-reliance on carbon capture, utilization, and sequestration (CCUS) technologies to meet its emissions target. We need to displace dirty coal and forest biomass-burning technology altogether for industry, paired with clean electrification, material efficiency, and industry right-sizing. In their plans, we are particularly interested to see how they intend to achieve carbon neutrality with their new joint venture AM-NS India 

“Nippon also seems to recognize the urgency of this challenge indicating they will begin shifting from some aging facilities, primarily coal-burning blast furnaces, to electric furnaces and eventually scaling hydrogen-based production- both of which can be powered by renewable energy. . But these shifts must also include a moratorium on building any new coal or biomass-burning facilities anywhere and a plan to phase out existing coal burning facilities; this will ensure carbon neutral production becomes a reality. Forest biomass has often overlooked significant near-term carbon impacts as carbon sequestered in forests is converted into fuel, burned, and returned to the atmosphere. 

“We still await more specific, time-bound, and actionable steps from Nippon. This should light a fire and spur ambitious commitments and plans from its peer companies such as Baowu Group, HBIS, Nucor, Shagang, POSCO, Tata, and others.  But industry and governments alike must make robust investments and science-based commitments for the 1.5°C warming scenario to be possible. Now that industry has signaled its willingness to act, the Japanese government should provide public support in the form of green recovery to support steelmakers and other heavy industry as they invest in technologies that locks out carbon emissions in order to achieve this challenging goal and fast.  

For more about Mighty Earth’s global steel campaign, and to read their latest mini report on ArcelorMittal, visit www.mightyearth.org/steel.

Stop Biomass Power Generation with Large-scale Fuel Import

NGO Joint Statement

Recently, Japanese Prime Minister Suga announced a policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to virtually zero by 2050. While we believe it is important to promote renewable energy, we are concerned that promoting large-scale biomass power generation which is predicated upon fuel imports could threaten biodiversity and accelerate climate change.

In Japan, biomass power generation is promoted by the FIT (Feed-in Tariff Program for Renewable Energy), using a levy added to our electricity bills, in the belief that it is good for the environment. In recent years, however, there has been an increase in the construction of large-scale biomass power plants reliant upon fuel imports from overseas, resulting in a rapid increase in fuel imports such as wood pellets and palm kernel shells (PKS).

In particular, the volume of wood pellets imported into Japan in 2012 was about 72,000 tons, and in 2019, it was about 1.61 million tons, an increase of more than 20 times.(1) In a few years, imports, mainly from North America, are expected to surge, totaling more than 3 million tons. However, in the United States and Canada, it is reported that due to the rapid increase in wood pellet production for export, natural forests such as wetland forests are being clear-cut with major impacts on ecosystems.(2)

In Canada, it has been pointed out that deforestation for wood pellet production is also affecting caribou habitats and indigenous peoples.(3) It is sometimes said that scrap wood from sawmills is used as the raw material for pellet production, but in reality, with the expansion of pellet production for export, whole logs are often used as the raw material. The large volumes utilized result in intensification of logging and in logging incursions to places such as swamp forests that otherwise would not have been economic to log.

Large-scale biomass fuel production will cause deforestation and forest degradation, which will have a major impact on biodiversity and accelerate climate change. At present, biomass power generation is regarded as "carbon neutral" and is automatically eligible for the FIT in Japan. However, when the production of biomass fuels contributes to deforestation and degradation, the carbon stock stored in forests and soil decreases and carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere. Even if forests regrow, until that time CO2 will have increased in the atmosphere for a period of decades or centuries. When the fuels are imported and burned to generate energy in Japan it results in large, immediate emissions to the atmosphere. This is however not counted as emissions of Japan. Also, fuel imports from overseas naturally emit a large amount of GHGs due to the long transportation distance. For example, Japan imports a large amount of wood pellets from Canada, and the GHG emissions from their transport amount to 17.2 g-CO2/MJ, which accounts for more than 70% of their total lifecycle GHG emissions.(4)(5) Therefore, biomass power generation is by no means carbon neutral. GHG emissions throughout the lifecycle should be evaluated and taken into consideration.

The current FIT planning guidelines do not include assessments of GHG emissions throughout the lifecycle of biomass power generation operations. In addition, the description of sustainability assessment for forest biomass fuels is ambiguous and left to the operators. This is not sufficient to prevent adverse impacts on forest ecosystems in extreme cases such as clear cutting of natural forests for fuel production. Projects that are not expected to reduce GHG emissions or that involve deforestation/forest degradation should be excluded from the FIT, including those that have already been approved.

We believe that biomass power generation should be small-scale and distributed, based on the principles of local production for local consumption and cascading use, and provide both heat and power. We believe that large-scale biomass power plants using imported fuels should be discontinued as they further accelerate the biodiversity and climate crisis.

In Japan, there have been reports that biomass fuels are co-fired with coal at inefficient coal-fired power plants, which is regarded as "high efficiency" but this is merely an accounting trick to prolong the life of coal-fired power plants and should not be permitted.

Friends of the Earth Japan
Kiko Network
Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies
Japan Center for a Sustainable Environment and Society
Greenpeace Japan
Biomass Industry Network
Global Environmental Forum
Japan Tropical Forest Action Network
Japan Community Power Association
Oratte Niigata Community Energy
Australian Forests and Climate Alliance
Dogwood Alliance
Estonian Forest Aid (Eesti Metsa Abiks)
Friends of the Earth US
Global Justice Ecology Project
Healthy Forest Coalition Nova Scotia
Mighty Earth
NOAH Friends of the Earth Denmark
NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council)
Partnership for Policy Integrity
Pivot Point
Rainforest Action Network
Rettet den Regenwald e.V.
Save Estonian Forests
Solutions For Our Climate (SFOC)
Southern Environmental Law Center
WOLF Forest Protection Movement
Wild Europe

(1) Ministry of Finance. Trade Statistics.
(2) Stand. Earth. “Investigation - Canada’s growing wood pellet export industry threatens forests, wildlife and our climate.” Apr. 2020.
Partnership for Policy Integrity and Dogwood Alliance. “Carbon Emissions and Climate Change Disclosure by the Wood Pellet Industry – A Report to the SEC on Enviva Partners LP.” Mar. 2016.
(3) Stand. Earth. “Investigation - Canada’s growing wood pellet export industry threatens forests, wildlife and our climate.” Apr. 2020.
(4) Calculations derived from this METI commissioned report:
Mitsubishi UFJ Research and Consulting. Survey Report Regarding the Procurement of Stable Supplies of Biomass Fuel and Sustainability. Feb. 2019. p. 108 (Japanese)
(5) This excludes the emissions from combustion

Consumers Push Back on Japanese Travel Company Driving Forest Destruction


Thousands of concerned travelers around the world have signed on to a threatened boycott of Japanese travel giant H.I.S. International, according to a new briefing paper from environmental campaign organization Mighty Earth. The paper highlights consumer outcry around the unexpected but clear link between Japan's second largest travel company and environmental destruction in Southeast Asia that threatens climate-vital rainforests and destroys the habitats of endangered orangutans. These latest consumer actions contribute to a rising tide of activism focusing on H.I.S., which has come under intense scrutiny for its foray into climate-polluting energy production.

The analysis, Think Twice About Traveling with Forest Destroyer H.I.S., highlights the recent campaign and relays the company’s efforts to expand its business portfolio into energy generation, and specifically identifies its under-construction power plant – a palm oil-burning facility in Kakuda City, Miyagi Prefecture – as a potential driver of ecological devastation.

“The palm oil industry drives about 250,000 acres of deforestation every year. Unchecked expansion of palm oil plantations destroys precious rainforests, threatens the survival of endangered orangutans, and exacerbates climate change,” said Rose Garr, Vice President at Mighty Earth. “H.I.S.’s power plant would require importing 70,000 more tons of palm oil each year, accelerating these trends. Even if that palm oil is subject to sourcing standards, there is an extremely limited supply of truly sustainable palm oil. The idea that we should burn it as fuel is just incredibly wasteful, and that’s why we’ve seen a global public outcry.”

H.I.S. is an international travel company that brings tourists to Japan to visit its quirky and offbeat destinations, including hotels staffed by robots and a theme park in Nagasaki that recreates old Holland. But in 2017, H.I.S. embarked on a new venture and established H.I.S. Super Power to sell discounted electricity to customers in Japan. Not content to be just an electricity middleman, H.I.S. Super Power began to build their own generation plants, putting up solar panels at their Dutch theme park but also investing in this large-scale power plant that would burn enormous quantities of palm oil.

Japanese environmental groups alerted H.I.S. to their concerns with the project and even met with the company’s CEO in February 2019. In July 2019, approximately 200,000 consumers from around the globe demanded H.I.S. protect forests by scrapping this proposed plant and getting out of the palm oil business. But H.I.S. management refused to accept the petitions and pushed forward with construction of the power plant.

H.I.S.’s lack of response prompted another round of international campaigning. The international coalition of NGOs delivered a letter to major H.I.S. branch offices in the United States, Europe, and Australia, reiterating its concerns about the power plant project. They sent a similar letter to H.I.S.’s major investors. Digital ads across multiple platforms are also being rolled out this week. The recent campaigning has led to an additional 7,200 people, including many frequent travelers, to pledge not to travel with H.I.S. or stay in its hotels until the company ends its involvement in palm oil power generation. H.I.S. has so far remained silent in the face of consumer protests, and after COVID 19-related delays, the power plant could begin operation in the coming weeks.

"As we hopefully put the worst of the pandemic behind us, there's going to be a huge pent-up desire to travel,” said Garr. “If the Olympics take place next year, international travelers will be flocking to Japan. But Americans, Australians, and Europeans don't want to travel or stay with a company driving destruction of the rainforests.”

“We understand H.I.S.’s desire to diversify into energy due to risks exemplified by the current pandemic and as Japanese domestic travel declines. However, their palm oil venture is shortsighted and risks generating a consumer backlash that threatens their core business. H.I.S. still has a chance to do the right thing: drop its plans to burn palm oil and instead invest in solar or the burgeoning Japanese wind power market.”

Global Call to End Coal Marks First Climate Test for New Japanese Administration

Dhaka · Tokyo · Washington D.C. – In a first climate test for the new Suga Administration in Japan, a major coalition of civil society organizations is holding a global call to stop Japanese coal finance in Bangladesh. The events will oppose Japanese involvement in new coal-fired power plants proposed to be built in Matarbari, Bangladesh and urge their replacement with renewable energy.

These power plants, as well as a coal terminal, would spread pollution over the long stretches of sandy beaches of Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh’s premier tourist destination, a nearby marine reserve and wildlife sanctuaries. An estimated 100,000 fishermen also rely on this area for their livelihoods.

The Global Call includes:

  • Activists forming a human chain at-risk Kohelia River in Matarbari;
  • An online rally featuring hundreds of people co-organised by 14 organisations across the world, coming together to call for Japan to end coal finance in Bangladesh
  • A billboard truck circling downtown Washington D.C. to target the Japanese Embassy, Sumitomo Corporation of the Americas, and JICA USA, calling out Sumitomo Corporation and the Japanese government for their involvement in the Matarbari coal plant project.
  • Environmental NGOs protesting against Sumitomo Corporation and JICA with a digital photo action in Tokyo

Images are available here.

Sharif Jamil, Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (BAPA) General Secretary said, “Japan is one of the most important development partners of Bangladesh. However, the coal based power plants under construction in Matarbari in the name of development reflects environmental racism towards our nation.”

“They are destroying the entire Kohelia River, evicting people and their livelihoods in those areas and going to emit pollutants to the air at a much higher level than the standard permissible for new coal power projects in Japan. We demand Japan to stop destroying our ecology and public health. Japan should cancel the coal plants and help Bangladesh towards sustainable growth.”

Japan’s Sumitomo Corporation is currently constructing one 1200MW coal plant at Matarbari with funding from the Japanese government through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). Despite international pledges to end coal finance, just this summer the Japanese government moved forward with a planning process to build yet another 1200MW plant at the Matarbari site.

Yuki Tanabe, Program Director for Japan Center for a Sustainable Environment and Society (JACSES), said, “In July 2020, the Government of Japan revised its coal financing policy, which states that ‘in principle, the government will not provide official financial support.’ However, projects that are already in the pipeline, including Matarbari 2, fall within the exceptions. Matarbari 2 is just in the beginning stages of project preparation, which is definitely still reversible.”

A study released on Tuesday this week by the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air assessed the cumulative impacts from these projects. Alarmingly, air pollution from Matarbari 1 and 2 coal plants would exacerbate the region’s poor air quality, resulting in increased illness and the premature deaths of 6,700 people. No pollution controls for mercury would result in widespread contamination of local farmland and waters by the toxic element.

Conversely, according to a recent University of Berkeley-led study there is potential for up to 53 gigawatts (GW) of solar power capacity  in  Bangladesh,  which  could  replace  planned  coal  power  projects  as  a  lower  cost  alternative  for  electricity generation.

"Japan's new administration must ensure a safe future for Bangladeshis instead of financing dirty energy projects. Every day, Bangladeshis are bearing the brunt of climate change impacts. This year alone, we saw record breaking cyclones and storm surges and floods that inundated one third of our country. If Japan is serious about their commitment to Bangladesh's sustainable development, they must proactively promote renewable energy." said Hasan Mehedi, Member Secretary, Bangladesh Working Group on External Debt (BWGED).

“Mighty Earth is proud to take part in this global event to support the people of Bangladesh. The planned Matarbari Phase 2 coal plant would further burden Bangladeshis with air pollution, pollute fish and farmland with mercury pollution, and place them at further risk from climate change impacts. Sumitomo Corporation claims to be going carbon neutral, yet still builds new coal plants, making its policy meaningless. We’re calling on Sumitomo to announce it will not take part in the Matarbari 2 coal plant,” said Roger Smith, Japan Project Manager for Mighty Earth.

Project to Build Japan's Largest Palm Oil Burning Power Plant Defeated

Environmental groups call on government to reform renewable energy incentives and for H.I.S. to abandon plans to build a similar plant

KYOTO, JAPAN – Environmental groups are celebrating today’s dissolution of Maizuru Green Initiatives GK, a company set up to build a palm oil burning power plant in Maizuru City, Japan. The controversial large-scale 66-megawatt biomass power plant was the subject of a 9 months-long campaign by local residents with support from Japanese and international environmental groups.

“This is a great victory for tropical forests and the residents of Maizuru. We are now calling on travel company H.I.S. in Miyagi and Sankei Energy in Kyoto to end their involvement with palm oil power plants, and for the Japanese government to stop subsidizing biomass power that worsens climate change,” said Yuichiro Ishizaki of HUTAN Group.

The Maizuru power plant sparked controversy for its use of palm oil as its primary fuel source. Malaysia and Indonesia are the primary producers of palm oil for Japan. Native tropical forests, including habitat for endangered orangutans, are being lost, with 3.5 million hectares of tropical rainforest in Indonesia and Malaysia converted into oil palm plantations over the last 20 years. Japan imports approximately 750,000 tons of palm oil per year, mainly for use in foods and products. If the Maizuru palm oil power plant were constructed, it would significantly add to this burden, burning an additional 120,000 tons per year.

Pressure from residents, including a petition with 11,000 signatures, prompted the project sponsor, AMP Energy of Toronto, Canada to withdraw from the project in April 2020. In a letter sent on Earth Day (April 22), Executive Chairman Paul Ezekiel stated: “Going forward, our company and our group will not consider power generation business that uses palm oil as its fuel.” Ezekiel was also quoted citing project difficulties which included “strong opposition from local residents.”

AMP’s withdrawal left a question as to whether the plant constructor and operator, Hitachi Zosen, would look for a new sponsor. At its annual shareholder meeting on June 23, 2020, Takashi Morimoto from the Maizuru residents group raised concerns and questioned Hitachi Zosen Managing Director Toshiyuki Shiraki about their plans for this plant. Shiraki responded that Hitachi Zosen would withdraw from this project. When asked for an explanation by a reporter, Shiraki stated: “It is because we have no prospect of investing in palm oil in the future.” Maizuru City followed suit, with the mayor announcing on June 26 that the city would no longer pursue the power plant project.

“It was all hands on deck for what we expected to be a years-long fight against this plant. It is amazing that we were able to see its cancelation in just nine months. I believe we were able to achieve victory due to a combination of local grassroots activities and advice from experienced NGOs. The world is full of problems, but I believe people in other regions can also change society for the better,” offered Takashi Morimoto of the Environmental Group of Maizuru West District.

Maizuru Plant Part of Larger Trend

In Japan, government incentives have spurred the use of palm oil for power generation. In 2012, Japan began incentives to support renewable energy (through the “feed-in-tariff” or FiT) where the government guarantees utilities will purchase electricity generated from renewable energy at a fixed price. Until recently, the feed-in-tariff system had the highest incentive in the world for biomass power (primarily wood pellets, palm kernel shells and palm oil) of 24 yen/KWh.

The more palm oil is burned for biomass power generation, the more global demand for palm oil will increase. As of March 2018, the total capacity of the palm oil power plant projects approved under the Japan’s FiT system was 1700 MW. If all were to be built, 3.4 million tons of palm oil would be burned each year -- nearly five times more than Japan’s current palm oil imports. This surge in demand threatens to have a huge environmental impact.

Japanese environmental advocates are battling a second large palm oil power plant under construction in Kakuda City, Miyagi Prefecture, and to date have collected 200,000 signatures against it. This plant is being built by H.I.S. Super Power, an affiliate of Japanese travel giant H.I.S.

“As a travel company, H.I.S. runs ecotours to places like Borneo, promoting a chance to experience the wonder of the natural world. How can they explain to these customers why they are also involved in a business which will burn large amounts of forest-destroying palm oil to make electricity? We are calling upon H.I.S. to follow Hitachi Zosen’s lead and renounce their involvement in palm oil power plants,” stated Kanna Mitsuta of Friends of the Earth, Japan.

Subsidizing Climate Change Biomass Worsens Climate Change

Unfortunately, Japanese government policy failed to put safeguards in place to avoid fuel sources linked to deforestation and with significant greenhouse gas emissions. A 2019 analysis done for Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) showed that palm oil had similar emissions to natural gas over its lifecycle (including cultivation, processing, transportation). However, when tropical forests are cleared, emissions increase five times; when peatlands are developed, emissions increase a staggering 139 times.

In addition to burning palm oil, Japan’s biomass policies also incentivize cutting down forests and burning wood, a practice that hinders our progress against climate change, as new trees regrow and reabsorb carbon slowly. Most wood burned in Japan is shipped from Vietnam or North America.

Maizuru Plant Attracted International Opposition

The Maizuru palm oil power plant attracted international attention, with environmental groups alarmed at Japan’s surge of biomass power plants. In a joint letter to 44 domestic and international financial institutions, 25 groups from 8 countries opposed this project, and palm oil power in general.

“The clock is ticking in our fight against global climate change – with only a few years to act, we cannot afford to waste time on false climate solutions,” said Mighty Earth Senior Campaign Director Deborah Lapidus. “Burning palm oil accelerates the destruction of the forests we need to absorb carbon. Burning wood biomass literally sends years’ worth of carbon sequestration up in smoke. Halting the Maizuru plant is an important step in ending the false promise of biomass and will help put the focus on truly renewable power solutions.”

Urgent Need to Reform Japan’s Renewable Energy Incentive Program

In April 2020, after calls for reform, METI required greenhouse gas assessment for new biomass fuel types under the feed-in-tariff. Advocates are urging METI to also place strict greenhouse gas emissions limits on existing fuels including palm oil, wood pellets and palm kernel shells.

“Japan’s renewable energy incentives should not subsidize fuels that worsen climate change,” stated Sayoko Iinuma of Global Environmental Forum. “Due to its high greenhouse gas emissions, palm oil should be excluded from the feed-in-tariff, and METI needs to adopt strict emissions limits for wood biomass as well.”

Campaign website (Japanese/limited English):