Delay is the new denial. Other CIGS researchers in the frame.
While Mr. Sugiyama is the most outspoken of CIGS’s research directors, he is not alone in his focus on slowing down the transition to clean energy.
Takaya Imai, for example, is a research director at CIGS focusing on analysis on changes in market and industrial structures arising from decarbonization (since 2021).
A former METI bureaucrat, Mr. Imai was a close aide to then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, serving as executive secretary to the prime minister and later as chief of staff of the Prime Minister’s Office.
Following Abe’s resignation, Mr. Imai was appointed as special advisor to the Cabinet of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on energy issues in September 2020. He was reported to be reappointed as a special advisor to the cabinet on energy policy in October 2021, under the new Prime Minister Kishida.
According to reports in Nikkei, Mr. Imai was renowned for stalling earlier efforts to adopt the 2050 decarbonization target. Abe’s administration had considered adopting decarbonization as government policy on two occasions, but Imai opposed each time, the paper reported.
At CIGS, Mr. Imai has been a regular contributor of columns on energy issues.
In a theme to which he repeatedly returns, an article posted to the CIGS website on April 7, 2021, on the eve of the Japan-US climate summit, sums up his views. In the piece, Mr. Imai belittles the Biden administration and speaks out against a ban on new coal power plants (translation from Japanese):
Even if the Biden administration decides to push through decarbonization, Republicans will immediately roll back this policy once they take office. What top leaders in Japan and the US should aim for is not an export ban on coal-fired power. Unfortunately, this seems to be the idea of people who do not have a good understanding of the world’s energy situation (Geopolitical Map). It’s just garden cleaning that has no meaning or strategy.
Emerging powers and developing countries including China still need coal. Actually, Europe and the US, too. The area of cooperation necessary for Japan and the US is to draw up a scenario to efficiently reduce carbon emissions worldwide over a certain period of time.
The EU and the UK treat coal like an enemy, but it is uncertain in the long-term whether the US is going to be brainwashed or put its decision on hold, and my guess is that the US will not join them.
While his arguments are more nuanced than those of Mr. Sugiyama, his advocacy for delay, coal power, and unproven coal technology is no less damaging to the need to respond to the climate crisis.
As prominent US climate scientist Michael Mann explains, “on the climate crisis, delay has become the new form of denial… One can no longer credibly deny that climate change is real, human-caused, and a threat to our civilization. That means that the forces of inaction — the fossil fuel interests and the front groups, organizations and mouthpieces-for-hire they fund — have been forced to turn to other tactics in their effort to keep us dependent on fossil fuels.”
“…the D-word du jour is delay. And we’ve become all too familiar with the lexicon employed in its service: ‘adaptation,’ ‘resilience,’ ‘geoengineering’ and ‘carbon capture.’ These words offer the soothing promise of action, but all fail to address the scale of the problem.”