At a time when Australia is looking to export more coal, Japan is building 22 new coal power plants while Germany is shutting down its coal industry for good without sacking a single worker.

When Germany shut its last coal mine in 2018, workers were already being offered retirement or new jobs.  The government worked with trade unions, energy companies, and green groups to draw a roadmap to a country that doesn't use coal at all, prompted by the contribution the high-carbon industry makes to made-made global warming.

Berlin will will give tens of billions of dollars to coal regions to create new jobs and industries, while keeping on a schedule to close all carbon-emitting electricity generation plants by 2038.  It may have started because Germany's remaining coal deposits are too deep to mine, but it will go a long way towards reducing the carbon emissions that contribute to the undeniable reality of man-made climate change.

While Germany races towards the future with renewables, Japan is looking to the past to fill its energy shortages.  Traditionally low on natural resources, Japan has to import materials and fuel to satisfy domestic consumption. 

"Japan is an anomaly among developed economies," said Yukari Takamura, climate expert at the University of Tokyo.  "The era of coal is ending, but for Japan, it's proving very difficult to give up an energy source that it has relied on for so long."

While the Japanese government will make claims of being a "green" country to the zillions of tourists coming for the 2020 Olympics, activists say the government has approved coal-fired power plant projects that would collectively emit as much carbon dioxide per year as all of the passenger cars sold in the US.  One of the projects in Yokosuka - a port city west of Tokyo and Yokohama - was rammed through the approval process without any input from area residents who appear to oppose it, and no environmental review.