Gov’t details its plan to cut carbon emissions

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Gov’t details its plan to cut carbon emissions

The Korean government announced Tuesday further details of environmental policies to cut 37 percent of greenhouse gas emissions from the current levels by 2030.

According to the Ministry of Strategy and Finance and eight other government branches, the government plans to cut 219 million tons of emissions, or 69 percent of the total target of 315 million tons, within Korea. It also is committed to cutting emissions by Korean companies abroad.

The 37 percent reduction plan is more ambitious than a voluntary target the Lee Myung-bak administration announced in 2009. That plan was to cut emissions to 70 percent of Korea’s 2005 level by 2020.

The government will reduce the largest amount of carbon dioxide emissions in the electricity generation sector. It plans to cut 64.5 million tons from electricity generation and 56.4 million tons generated by industries.

“We plan to reduce 19.4 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in electricity generation by replacing currently used energy sources that have high emissions,” said Oh Il-young, a director at the Finance Ministry.

“Industrially, we will reduce emissions by 11.7 percent. We have stayed below the 12 percent level to reduce the burden on industries and to avoid any negative impact on the local economy.”

The government said it will cut greenhouse gas released overseas by 96 million tons by 2030 as well, which follows the Paris climate accord that was signed by 197 countries last year. Carbon dioxide emissions released overseas by Korean companies or manufacturing plants count as emissions caused by Korea, the Finance Ministry said.

“We plan to reduce the amount overseas but believe there needs to be certain agreements made between countries [to announce further details],” said Oh at the Finance Ministry.

“We will come up with details by 2020 for the overseas reduction plans.”

The government also decided to expand research and development investment in clean energy from the current 560 billion won ($478.1 million) per year to 1.12 trillion won starting from 2021.

Analysts gave mixed reviews of the plans.

Businesses worry that the targets set by the government could be costly to them. But environmentalists cheered the plans.

The steel industry will have to lower its emission by 17 percent, the largest amount among major industries.

“Korean steel companies’ energy efficiency is currently pretty high when compared to other companies abroad, and we don’t have room to cut back at this moment,” said a representative of the Korean Iron & Steel Association.

“We may have to find ways, such as working on newly developed technologies, in order to meet the goal.”

One technology that has been mentioned is the of hydrogen instead of carbon m use onoxide when making steel, which would prevent carbon dioxide emissions.

The petrochemical industry, which will have to cut 7 million tons of emissions, has similar concerns.

The petrochemical industry has argued that the government’s goal is impractical.


BY KIM YOUNG-NAM [kim.youngnam@joongang.co.kr]

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