Federal Environment Minister Hendricks sums up visit to Japan
Federal Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks concluded her tour of Japan by visiting the site of the Fukushima nuclear power plant to learn more about the consequences of the nuclear disaster five years ago. Earlier, Minister Hendricks had taken part in the G7 meeting in Toyama and later gone to Tokyo for bilateral meetings with the Tamayo Marukawa, Minister of the Environment, and Keiichi Ishii, Minister of Construction. Key issues at both the G7 and the bilateral meetings were climate action, the expansion of renewable energies and resource efficiency.
Minister Hendricks was very impressed with the progress of the work in Fukushima. "It is still very upsetting to see the many visible wounds and signs of destruction caused by the tsunami of 11 March 2011. Our sympathies go out to the victims, their families and all those who have lost their belongings and their home through this triple catastrophe. This devastating earthquake and the disastrous tsunami will affect not only the region but the whole country for some time to come."
Minister Hendricks noted that this made it even more astounding how full of energy and confidence people were in going about decontaminating and rebuilding their villages and cities. Progress was clearly visible.
Minister Hendricks commented: "Visiting Fukushima has made the incredible risks of using nuclear power very clear to us once more." She stressed that every country had to make the decision about its energy mix for itself but that there were now better and more secure options than nuclear power. The conditions for using renewable energy sources were very good in Japan and even better than in Germany. Extending the operating life of nuclear power plants would rather slow down the long due transformation of energy supply systems.
Minister Hendricks also pointed out that the climate targets adopted at the climate conference in Paris could not be reached without phasing out coal-fired power plants. "Paris means that not all coal or crude oil reserves can be extracted from the earth - in Germany or anywhere else. We will have to phase out the use of coal-fired power plants in a socially acceptable manner, or we will not be able to reach our goal of greenhouse gas neutrality by the middle of the century."
Another priority issue of the G7 meeting was resource efficiency. The Toyama Framework on Material Cycles was adopted at the meeting. It will be presented at the summit of the heads of state and government in late May. The G7 want to work together with industry to push ahead with strategic measures, for example better management of electronic waste along the entire global value added chain. Minister Hendricks emphasised that there was agreement that major emerging economies had to be won over to resource efficient economic practices as well.
Barbara Hendricks will advocate for this topic to be put on the agenda of the German G20 presidency. During her bilateral meetings with Minister Marukawa, Hendricks recognised that the Japanese government has stepped up its efforts for climate action and set itself ambitious targets for expanding the use of renewable energies. Representatives from German industry accompanied Minister Hendricks in Tokyo where they met with Japanese entrepreneurs. Hendricks pointed out that climate action and environmental protection offer business opportunities for both economies. Germany and Japan will work together more closely in future, especially in the area of climate technologies. Both governments stressed this wish in their joint declaration.