Gov’t will spend to get fine dust out of Korea’s air

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Gov’t will spend to get fine dust out of Korea’s air

The Korean government will spend 5 trillion won ($4.4 billion) over four years to reduce the ever-increasing fine dust in Korea.

The money will be spent to boost the number of environmentally-friendly vehicles on Korean roads by the year 2020.

The detailed plans released Friday comes a month after a government task force led by Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn announced that they will lower Seoul’s average fine dust concentration to the level of European countries, which is 18 micrograms per cubic meter.

“We didn’t have a specific plan for the budget and how we were going to come up with the funds when we announced our objective on June 3,” Lee Jung-sub, vice minister of environment, said at a joint press briefing Friday attended by officials from the Ministry of Strategy and Finance; Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning; Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy; Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport; and the Office for Government Policy Coordination.

“Over the past month, we’ve figured out how we are going to allocate the budget and what projects need to be supplemented,” he said.

Of the total budget, 3 trillion won will be spent on supporting the use of pollution-free vehicles such as hybrid cars and electric cars. The government will also spend 760 million won to install charging stations across the nation. It also pledged to pay incentives to people who scrap old diesel vehicles and purchase new ones, which will add up to 180 billion won.

The government said it will give a tax deduction of 70 percent of individual’s income taxes to people who get rid of a diesel car purchased before 2006 and buy a new one. The tax deduction has a ceiling of 1 million won per vehicle and will be valid for six months after the purchase has taken place.

If the government concludes the tax deduction policy is effective, it will expand to reducing acquisition taxes for people buying full-size vans or trucks after getting rid of old vehicles.

The government said it will confirm by July policies prohibiting old diesel cars from what’s called “Low Emission Zones” in Seoul, Incheon and Gyeonggi.

The government wants to boost the number of eco-friendly cars to 1.5 million by the year 2020 and expand the number of charging stations for electric cars to 3,000 and for hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles to 100.

In terms of public transportation, the government is considering increasing incentives for buses that run on compressed natural gas (CNG) instead of diesel.

From the 6 million won incentive provided to buyers of CNG buses, the government will increase the amount to 12 million won in 2017. The 30 million won budget earmarked for CNG hybrid bus incentives will be increased to 35 million by next year.

Cooperation with neighboring countries to reduce fine dust around the region will also be strengthened.

The Korean government will hold a Korean-Chinese workshop in Beijing in October to investigate the origin of ultrafine particles that are polluting the air.

Senior officials from the Korean and Chinese environment ministries will hold a meeting in November to figure out more detailed solutions to the problem.

Related governmental departments including the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning; Ministry of Environment; and Ministry of Health and Welfare will carry out R&D projects to identify the source of fine dust pollution and suggest solutions.

BY JIN EUN-SOO [jin.eunsoo@joongang.co.kr]

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