The 5th of May of 2012 went down in History as the first day Japan does not depend on atomic power to generate electricity since 1970. As a response to the breakdown of the Fukushima plant triggered by the tsunami last year, the country has developed a series of safety measures that included closing down all of its nuclear reactors. Until last year, nuclear energy constituted 30% of Japanese power source. In the meantime, fossil fuels fill the gap left by
atomic power, increasing considerably the levels of greenhouse gas emissions.
While the measures have received a great popular ovation, even ecologists in favour of nuclear power reduction have acknowledged the consequences of this action for the environment. The pressing needs of the economic crisis and the human distress produced by the Fukushima disaster have situated the priorities away from global warming awareness. As a result, no climate issue has dissuaded thousands of people to march in the streets of Tokyo and celebrate what they hope is the end of nuclear power in Japan. Several social organisations have encouraged the manifestation and urged Japanese people to keep up the pressure on the government to keep the nuclear plants closed.
The Fukushima catastrophe, the worst nuclear power plant accident since the Chernobyl disaster (Ukraine) in 1986, has outraged, shaken consciences and set off the alarms about the risks of nuclear plants in the Japanese society and political class. As a consequence, the authorities have initiated a period of inspection to certify the security conditions of the country's 50 reactors. However, local governments are sceptical about them being re-opened given the recent nuclear energy unpopularity.
As ecologists point out, it is possible to live without nuclear energy. The problem, however, comes when it is necessary to find promptly a substitute to generate electricity. The most beneficial answer for the environment would be to make up for it with renewable energies. Nonetheless, this action would take a long time, thus in the period in-between, fossil fuels are used as energy source.
With the public opinion strongly against re-opening nuclear plants, everything points out that the greenhouse gas emissions will hopelessly increase significantly for a very long time. The consequences will be paid by the environment and will be reflected in climate change, unless initiatives are taken into action towards speeding up the use of renewable energy.