South Korea increases its emissions reduction goal to 40% of 2018 levels by 2030

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South Korea today announced its commitment to slash its emissions by 40% of 2018 levels by 2030, compared to an initial 26.3% goal that the country set in 2020.

South Korean president Moon Jae-in said at a presidential committee meeting about the country working toward becoming carbon neutral:

This is the most ambitious reduction target possible under our circumstances.

The goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions [by] 40% shows the nation’s strong willingness for carbon neutrality and responsibility toward the international community.

Moon is right about ambition, seeing how coal makes up around 41% of South Korea’s electricity mix yet clean energy currently only makes up just over 6%, and manufacturing, which currently relies on fossil fuels, makes up a large part of the South Korean economy.

Moon also said that the South Korean government has allotted 12 trillion won ($10.11 billion) to 2022’s carbon neutrality budget.

Channel News Asia briefly summarizes the country’s net zero plan:

The government aims to shift industry to minimize carbon emissions by halving coal-fired power generation from 41.9% to 21.8% by 2030 and raising renewables from 6.2% to 30.2%, it said in a statement.

South Korea aims to put 4.5 million electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles on its roads by 2025, the statement said, while adding more charging stations and infrastructure.

This is welcome news ahead of the upcoming United Nations COP26 summit in Glasgow, which kicks off on October 31, but some environmental groups still feel South Korea’s target is not ambitious enough.

Justin Jeong, Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner, told Reuters the target should be raised to over 50% to meet the international goals.

Moon also reiterated that South Korea will reach net zero by 2050, which he initially announced nearly a year ago.

According to the Yonhap News Agency:

South Korea’s greenhouse gas emissions were estimated at 648.6 million tons in 2020, down 7.3% from the previous year, according to the environment ministry. It marked the first time that such emissions declined for the second straight year.

Read more: South Korea joins Japan and China in net zero pledge


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