The United Nations rejected Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's request to speak at its climate summit in September, Japanese government sources said Thursday, apparently due to the government's promotion of coal-fired power plants.
Abe had wanted to brief participants at the U.N. Climate Action Summit on the outcome of the Group of 20 summit in Osaka in June, said the sources, who added the U.N. response may also have been prompted by Japan's failure to upgrade its goals for greenhouse gas emissions cuts.
"This had to be a summit of action plans, not platitudes," U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres said in his closing remarks at the climate summit in New York on Sept. 23.
One of the sources said, "The fact that (Japan) has provided financial assistance for developing countries to construct coal-fired power plants also affected the decision."
During the summit, numerous leaders announced national goals such as achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050, expanding the use of renewable energy and increasing financial assistance for developing countries to fight global warming.
Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg made a speech at the summit, urging world leaders to take immediate action.
Japan was represented by Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi, who was not given the opportunity to make a speech.
In June, Abe's Cabinet approved a plan to slash greenhouse gas emissions to zero in the second half of the century. Renewable energy such as solar and wind will be the mainstay of Japan's energy use to achieve the goal, though coal-fired power plants will remain operational.
A draft plan at a panel tasked with compiling the strategy urged scrapping all coal-fired plants in the long term. But the idea was dropped after meeting strong opposition from certain panel members from the business sector, drawing criticism from some environmental organizations.