Korea-The 14th Country to Legislate for Carbon Neutrality

02 Apr, 2022

The Korea Policy Brief reported on March 22 that the South Korean National Assembly passed the Basic Law on Carbon Neutrality and Green Growth, which includes raising the 2030 national greenhouse gas reduction target (NDC) to 40% and establishing a basic plan for national carbon neutrality, making South Korea the 14th country to legislate for carbon neutrality.The Korea Policy Brief reported on March 22 that the South Korean National Assembly passed the Basic Law on Carbon Neutrality and Green Growth, which includes raising the 2030 national greenhouse gas reduction target (NDC) to 40% and establishing a basic plan for national carbon neutrality, making South Korea the 14th country to legislate for carbon neutrality.

The Ministry of Environment and the 2050 Carbon Neutral Committee, a new presidential body, said that the Basic Law on Carbon Neutrality and Green Growth will be implemented from the 25th, and that within one year of the law's implementation, the government will develop a 20-year national carbon neutral basic plan, and local governments will develop a 10-year basic plan for municipalities, provinces, cities, counties, and districts.

Under the Act, a system of "greenhouse gas emission reduction awareness budget" and "climate change impact assessment" will be introduced, green growth policies will be formulated, green industries will be fostered and supported, the scale of investment in green finance and technology development business will be increased, and green management and development and commercialization of green technologies will be promoted.

This year, 2.4 trillion won will be invested to support core areas such as "reducing greenhouse gas emissions" and "establishing a low-carbon industrial ecosystem".

The Ministry of Environment of Korea emphasized that this year is the first year to fulfill carbon neutrality and to make continuous efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in all areas of society, such as power generation, industry, and transportation.

Korea started its industrialization in the second half of the 20th century, late compared to other developed economies, but it has been at the forefront of achieving its carbon neutrality goal.

As early as July 2020, when the Moon Jae-in administration formulated the "Korean version of the New Deal" to activate the domestic economy, it listed "achieving carbon neutrality" as one of the three major goals, taking the first step toward making Korea a carbon-neutral country.

In December of the same year, the Korean government adopted the "2050 Carbon Neutral Declaration", making a formal commitment to the world to achieve the goal of carbon neutrality by 2050.

In the declaration, Korea said that it will "promote carbon neutrality in all aspects of industry, economy, and society, foster renewable energy, hydrogen, and energy IT industries," "build a low-carbon industrial ecosystem," and "achieve a fair transition without It will also build carbon neutral financial programs and actively activate green finance and funds. It is worth mentioning that 243 local governments in Korea have also announced their participation in the "2050 Carbon Neutral Declaration".

In order to coordinate policy measures at the national level, the Korean government established the 2050 Carbon Neutral Committee under the President in May 2021 to further refine targets and initiatives.

In October of the same year, the committee adopted several months' worth of comments on the 2030 National Autonomous Contribution Target Upward Revision Program and the 2050 Carbon Neutral Program, and finally decided to raise the mid-term carbon neutral target significantly, i.e., to increase the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from 26.3% to 40% by 2030 compared to 2018. Currently, Korea has officially submitted the proposal to the United Nations.

Specifically, the power generation sector plans to reduce emissions by 44.4%, of which the proportion of coal power generation will be halved compared to 2018, and the proportion of renewable energy will be significantly increased; the industrial sector will reduce emissions by 14.5% through optimization of steel industry processes and replacement of petrochemical raw materials; the construction sector will reduce emissions by 32.8% through the popularization of energy-efficient buildings and efficient energy equipment; in the transportation sector, 4.5 million environmentally friendly vehicles will be invested In the transportation sector, 4.5 million environmentally friendly vehicles will be invested to achieve the emission reduction target of 37.8%.

In addition, the Korean government plans to absorb 26.7 million tons of greenhouse gases by preserving and restoring greenhouse gas absorbers, introduce carbon capture, utilization and storage technologies, and promote emission reduction projects abroad.

In order to implement the relevant goals, the Korean government announced the "Vision and Strategy for the Great Transformation of Carbon Neutrality in Industry and Energy" at the end of 2021, proposing a roadmap to achieve carbon neutrality.

Specifically, 24 old coal generating units will be phased out by 2034, and the coal generation quota system will be extended to the private sector, with the aim of completely phasing out coal generation by 2050.

The Korean government also plans to work with state-run companies to expand investment in carbon neutral projects and lead the private sector to increase carbon neutral investment. The government expects that the investment in this field by all parties is expected to reach 94 trillion won in 2025.

At the same time, the Korean government has also proposed a vision of "the world's top four industrial powers leading a low-carbon economy" and has set the goals of reaching 70.8% of clean electricity, about 20 times more than 3.6% in 2018; 60% self-sufficiency in clean hydrogen energy; 84.1% of green high-value-added industrial products, more than 5 times more than 16.5% in 2018; and 86% reduction in carbon intensity in manufacturing compared to 2018. 5 times of 16.5% in 2018 as well as a reduction of 86% in manufacturing carbon emissions intensity compared to 2018.

In response, experts say that Korea has the confidence to lead the coming era of carbon neutrality. The government will ensure a stable supply of core energy by maintaining energy prices at a reasonable level through technological innovation and by ensuring economic security. Companies are the "protagonists" of carbon neutrality, and the government will support their efforts to achieve carbon neutrality.

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