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Policies to improve energy and environmental security, resilience, and reliability (III/V): a case study on Japan

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By Venera N. Anderson

· 6 min read


This is the third part of a five-part research paper on improving energy and environmental security, resiliency, and reliability situations in Japan. You can find part one here, part two here, part four here, and part five here.

The significant and rapid reduction of high-emitting coal, oil, and gas in the share of primary energy production, imports, and consumption along with energy efficiency and CCS is crucial to achieving Japan’s 2050 carbon neutrality target (Appendix A, Figures 2&3.). At the same time, the current “cleaner” (Sullivan, 2022a) energy transition needs to be as orderly and just as possible (WEC, 2022), simultaneously accounting for the tradeoffs between the country’s energy and environmental issues. Since high uncertainty surrounds the pace and scale of Japan’s energy transition, goals must be clarified before strategies can be considered and applied. The proposal of four separate sectoral policy options with goals for improving energy and environmental security, resilience, and reliability is consistent with Japan’s U.N. Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) target (the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 46% in 2030 from its 2013 levels); G7 pledge to achieve “fully or predominantly decarbonized” electricity by 2035; 2050 carbon neutrality goal; National Security Strategy of Japan, and 6th Strategic Energy Plan, with the focus on “3E+S” (energy security, economic efficiency, environmental protection, and safety) (METI, 2021; NSS, 2022; Shiraishi, 2023).   

The policies broadly outlined in Table 1 are intended to inform the debate on possible separate sectoral solutions to improve Japan's pressing energy and environmental issues. Section 4 analyzes the policies in detail, considering the costs and benefits of each policy option, the time frames for their implementations, and possible unintended consequences, which are connected to the tradeoffs among energy and environmental resilience and security, economic resilience and security, and political-military resilience and security.

Table 1. Breakdown of policy proposals

Proposed Sectoral Policies Objectives Time frames Selected Major Actions
Policy 1: Energy Security

1) diversify energy sources and suppliers to provide "uninterrupted availability of energy sources at an affordable price" (IEA, 2023)

2) strengthen cyber & physical security measures for energy systems (applicable for Policy 2&3)

short-term (2023-2030);
medium-term (2030-2050);
long-term (2050 and beyond)
  • Targets/policy tools for accelerating RE deployment and coal-fired power phaseout by 2035
  • Energy efficiency, phase out target for fossil-fueled vehicles, electrification of mobility, and behavioral changes (conservation) are also crucial to reduce dependence on fossil fuels imports
  • Short/medium term: reacknowledge the role of LNG (terminals and storage); 2) methane hydrates exploration
  • Nuclear power restart & seawater desalination from nuclear power co-generation
  • Cleaner hydrogen (green, blue, pink) to replace gray hydrogen in "hard-to-abate" sectors 
  • Geothermal & tidal & wave energy development and deployment (medium & long-term)
  • Critical minerals: diversification of sources & suppliers & circular economy
  • Cyber & physical security measures for energy systems 
Policy 2: Energy Resilience Prepare energy systems to avoid, minimize, adapt, and recover from various types of energy disturbances to guarantee the systems' dependability and accessibility (CLS, n.d.) short-term (2023-2030);
medium-term (2030-2050);
long-term (2050 and beyond)
  • New interrregional transmission infrastructure alongside RE (solar/wind) deployment
  • New natural gas interconnections (short-term/medium-term)
  • Smart grids and micro grids for resilience
  • Blockchain to enhance resilience of smart grids & micro grids
  • Implement cyber and physical security measures (Policy 1)
  • "Anti-fragile" energy system
Policy 3: Energy Reliability Enhance energy systems' capabilities to survive various uncontrolled events, volatility, growing failure, and sudden loss of power of the systems' components (DOE, 2023) short-term (2023-2030);
medium-term (2030-2050);
long-term (2050 and beyond)
  • Modernization of electric grids
  • Emphasis on cleaner and reliable energy sources (natural gas (short-medium term); nuclear (all time frames)
  • Energy storage (batteries, pumped hydro, hydrogen) integration alongside RE deployment
  • Smart grids & micro-grids for reliability (more flexible balancing of supply and demand)
  • Cyber & physical security measures (Policy 1)
Policy 4: Environmental Issues: Security | Resilience | Reliability

Strengthen society's ability to withstand environmental risks, asset scarcity (water & food), and adverse changes (ENVS)

Enhance and assist ecosystem ability for environmental damage resistance, quick recovery, and reorganization while transforming into a system with identical structure, function, feedback, and identity (ENVR) 

Anticipate, prepare, and adapt to the environment's ability to affect the country's various situations in a predictable or reliable manner (ENVR)

short-term (2023-2030);
medium-term (2030-2050);
long-term (2050 and beyond)
  • GHG reduction through the change in energy systems (low/zero carbon energy solutions) & better energy demand and supply management (Policy 1).
  • Circular economies for energy, minerals, water, and food systems
  • Circular carbon economy (short-medium term)
  • Regenerative farming and agriculture
  • Grow forests to decrease CO2 emissions
  • "Sound Hydrological Cycles" | Innovative water security policies with the focus on water footprints and virtual water trades
  • Diversification of food sources and suppliers
  • Adherence to Japan's MealDRI - 2021's strategy for food security *Promotion of consumer's behavioral changes for food security
  • Protect coral reefs and prevent future coral bleaching events *Involvement in the Arctic issues (climate change/food security)
  • Integrated policies, resilience capacity building throughout cities and regions 
  • Investment in initiatives and workforce that can help understand, prepare, and adapt the country for the changing (reliable or disruptive) conditions of the environment that can affect other aspects of the country
  • Adaptation collaboration initiatives (public/private) for disaster risks 

The next part will analyze each of these policy proposals in further detail.

illuminem Voices is a democratic space presenting the thoughts and opinions of leading Sustainability & Energy writers, their opinions do not necessarily represent those of illuminem.

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About the author

Dr. Venera N. Anderson is a global strategy advisor and published author on sustainability and climate issues. She creates and implements innovative solutions that address the world’s most pressing issues, such as climate change, economic development, and humanitarian challenges. She is a member of the Harvard Business Review Advisory Council. Venera is a co-author of the "Touching Hydrogen Future" book (2nd edition). She is also an International Expert at Women in Green Hydrogen, a global network which strives to increase the visibility and amplify the voices of women working in the green hydrogen sector, and a Speaker at Tech Up for Women and the Wall Street Green Summit about her vision for coastal U.S. green hydrogen hubs.

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