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Emissions to be cut by 32% by 2030, ministry says

Oct 23,2019
Korea’s greenhouse gas emissions will be cut by 32 percent by 2030 under a new plan announced Tuesday to tackle climate change.

The measures encourage eco-friendly cars and buildings and carbon trading schemes among corporations.

The Ministry of Environment said on Tuesday that it aims to cut Korea’s greenhouse gas emissions from 709.1 million tons in 2017 to 536 million tons by 2030.

The ministry said the new action plan was approved at a cabinet meeting. To reach the target, the ministry will encourage low-carbon emission vehicles - such as electric vehicles and hydrogen-powered cars - hoping to raise their number to 3.85 million units by the target year.

The plan is in line with President Moon Jae-in’s initiative to move toward a hydrogen-focused economy, although the feasibility of the plan is likely to be questioned.

The plan should also affect how buildings are constructed. All public buildings will be required to redesign their system to minimize on-site energy consumption.

Carbon trading will also be encouraged, and the ministry plans to increase the proportion of so-called emission rights that companies should buy to offset their emissions of carbon dioxide.

Under the current carbon trading system, the government covers 97 percent of the cost of emission rights - called Korean Allowance Units (KAU) - for each company. Companies pay only 3 percent. The Environment Ministry plans to increase that amount paid by corporations to 10 percent between 2021 and 2025.

One KAU is equivalent to one ton of greenhouse gases, and the government previously set the base price for 1 KAU at 10,000 won ($9).

Still, it remains to be seen whether companies will want to take more responsibility. Local businesses complain about mounting costs linked with the carbon trading system.

Korea was one of 195 countries that agreed to battle global climate change by limiting a rise in the global temperature to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) in the Paris climate accord. Korea and other countries also agreed to review their carbon emissions targets every five years.

BY PARK EUN-JEE [park.eunjee@joongang.co.kr]