Japan's CO2 emissions drop 3 pct to 5-year low in FY2015

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's greenhouse gas emissions fell 3 percent to a five-year low in the financial year through March due to lower power demand, growing renewable energy and the restart of nuclear power plants, government figures showed on Tuesday. Emissions fell for a second straight year to 1.321 billion metric tonnes of CO2 equivalent, hitting the lowest since fiscal 2010, according to Ministry of Environment preliminary data. Japan's emissions rose after the March 2011 Fukushima disaster that led to the closure of nuclear power plants and an increased reliance on coal. The world's fifth-biggest carbon emitter, Japan, has set a goal to cut its emissions by 26 percent from 2013 levels by 2030, and last month ratified the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement to prevent climate change. The 2015 figure was down 6.0 percent from 2013, due to power saving and a cooler summer and warmer 2015/2016 winter. Wider use of renewable energy in the wake of Fukushima and the restart of Kyushu Electric Power's two reactors at Sendai nuclear power station also lent support, said Madoka Konishi, chief official at the ministry's low carbon society promotion office. Two of Japan's 43 reactors were restarted during the year through March 2016, marking the nation's first nuclear power generation since September 2013. Currently, only two reactors are generating power and the pace of restarts has been slower than many expected as all units need to be relicensed after being idled in the wake of the meltdown at Tokyo Electric Power's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in March 2011. (Reporting by Yuka Obayashi; Editing by Aaron Sheldrick and Richard Pullin)