Climate policies after Fukushima: Three views

Jim Skea, Stefan Lechtenböhmer, Jusen Asuka

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18 Citations (Scopus)


The 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami, and the consequent accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, have had consequences far beyond Japan itself. Reactions to the accident in three major economies Japan, the UK, and Germany, all of whom were committed to relatively ambitious climate change targets prior to the accident are examined. In Japan and Germany, the accident precipitated a major change of policy direction. In the UK, debate has been muted and there has been essentially no change in energy or climate change policies. The status of the energy and climate change policies in each country prior to the accident is assessed, the responses to the accident are described, and the possible impacts on their positions in the international climate negotiations are analysed. Finally, the three countries' responses are compared and some differences between them observed. Some reasons for their different policy responses are suggested and some themes, common across all countries, are identified Policy relevance The attraction of nuclear power has rested on the promise of low-cost electricity, low-carbon energy supply, and enhanced energy independence. The Fukushima accident, which followed the Japanese tsunami of March 2011, has prompted a critical re-appraisal of nuclear power. The responses to Fukushima are assessed for the UK, Germany, and Japan. Before the accident, all three countries considered nuclear as playing a significant part in climate mitigation strategies. Although the UK Government has continued to support nuclear new build following a prompt review of safety arrangements, Japan and Germany have decided to phase out nuclear power, albeit according to different timescales. The factors that explain the different decisions are examined, including patterns of energy demand and supply, the wider political context, institutional arrangements, and public attitudes to risk. The implications for the international climate negotiations are also assessed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)36-54
Number of pages19
JournalClimate Policy
Issue numberSUPPL.1
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Mar


  • climate change mitigation
  • energy policy
  • nuclear power
  • renewable energy


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