Korea’s carbon-cutting goal is big

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Korea’s carbon-cutting goal is big

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The government decided to set a higher carbon reduction goal than previously proposed.

The government said it will reduce 37 percent of estimated greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, which is about 314.7 million tons.

The new goal was confirmed Tuesday at a cabinet meeting presided over by Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, and was submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on the same day.

Once all UNFCCC members submit reduction goal proposals, they will evaluate and adjust the goals to finalize them in November, making them legally binding.

Korea, which forecast that it would emit 850.6 million tons of greenhouse gases in 2030, has to cut its emissions to 535.9 million tons in that year.

The target is higher than four reduction proposals introduced on June 11, which ranged from 15 percent to 31 percent of estimated emissions in 2030.

The government’s new reduction plan includes eased regulations for local manufacturers and the granting of special exceptions. Manufacturers’ reductions don’t need to exceed 12 percent of their industries’ 2030 emissions estimations. It also allows them to meet the reduction goal with carbon credits purchased overseas.

The power generation industry will be able to meet the goals thanks to the government’s recent plan to reduce coal power, open two additional nuclear reactors by 2029 and expand renewable energy, said Vice Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy Chung Yang-ho at a press conference.

The 37 percent reduction goal will be carried out in two ways: 25.7 percent will be reduced domestically as declared in the third proposal made early this month, and the remaining 11.3 percent will be reduced by purchasing carbon credits from the international carbon credit trading market.

The International Market Mechanism hasn’t yet been officially implemented globally, but has recently emerged as an alternative reduction method for many countries. Environment Minister Yoon Seong-kyu referred to Switzerland as an example. It recently announced 30 percent of its reduction goal will be met with carbon credits purchased overseas.

After the government’s announcement, environmentalist lawmaker Kim Je-nam of the Justice Party said local environmentalists are concerned that the government may have set the reduction goal too high as a tool to justify its nuclear expansion policies.

Six major business lobbying groups, 26 sector associations and 38 individual companies released a joint statement that criticized the government’s reduction goal, calling it a decision that “only considered responses from the international arena.”

“As the Korean economy slows due to local issues and global economy uncertainties, the government’s excessively high reduction goals would be another regulation that acts like a ‘cancer,’?” the statement said.

According to media reports, U.S. President Barack Obama requested during a phone call with President Park Geun-hye on June 12 that she set an ambitious carbon reduction goal.

BY KIM JI-YOON [kim.jiyoon@joongang.co.kr]
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