Gov't announces road map to carbon neutrality

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Gov't announces road map to carbon neutrality

Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki, center, describes Korea's carbon neutrality road map at the government complex in Seoul on Dec. 7. [YONHAP]

Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki, center, describes Korea's carbon neutrality road map at the government complex in Seoul on Dec. 7. [YONHAP]

 
The government sketched out a road map Monday for Korea achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. 
 
It included electric vehicle (EV) charging stations for 20 million households nationwide as well as setting up hydrogen fuel charging stations. 
 
The goal is to achieve sustainable economic growth through a major transformation of the economic structure that will be fairer and improve the quality of life for all, said a joint statement from government departments including the Ministry of Finance and Economy, Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, Ministry of Science and ICT and the Ministry of Environment.
 
The road map was a general outline with details promised for later.
 
The government said it will pursue what it dubbed “three plus one” policies.
 
The three key policies are: Transforming Korea's economic structure to a low-carbon economy; creating a low-carbon industrial ecosystem led by new technologies; and building a fair society through carbon neutrality.
 
Ten projects were announced including changes to current industries that generate large amounts of carbon emission, expanding new forms of mobility including EVs and hydrogen-fueled cars, fostering promising technologies as well as protecting workers and industries made vulnerable by the changes.
 
One of the key projects is converting the Korean economy from being highly dependent on fossil fuels to using much cleaner forms of renewable energy.
 
As of 2019, coal was the biggest source of Korea’s energy, accounting for 40 percent of the power generated in the country, followed by nuclear energy (25.9 percent) and liquefied natural gas (25.6 percent). Renewable energy sources only account for 6.5 percent.
 
The United States only relies on coal for 24 percent of its energy generate, and for Japan that figure is 32 percent.
 
Korean industries are the biggest consumers of fossil fuels, which generate 70 percent of the energy they consume.  
 
Korean companies account for 38 percent of carbon emissions  by the country.
 
The government said it plans to help reduce carbon emission in industries and their reliance on fossil fuels by upgrading factories and creating “green” industrial complexes.
 
The "plus one" in the “three plus one” framework is a system that will support carbon neutrality policies including fiscal polices and so-called "green finance."
 
“A transition to a sustainable economy through carbon neutrality is a historic and global trend, which is no longer a choice but a necessity,” Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki said Monday.
 
“If it is inevitable, it is appropriate to take bold proactive steps for the nation’s interest and our future generations,” he added.
 
The road map came out more than a month after President Moon Jae-in declared the goal of Korea becoming carbon neutral by 2050 in a speech at the National Assembly.
 
In December 2019, the European Union announced it will achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.
 
In September, China declared it would achieve carbon neutrality by 2060 after its carbon emissions peaked in 2030.
 
In October, Japan set its goal for carbon neutrality in 2050.
 
The government also hinted at changes to calculations of electricity bills.
 
Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy Sung Yun-mo said Monday during the carbon neutrality press briefing that the government will come up with monthly power bills that are more flexible and rational.
 
"Through [the changes] we will make energy consumption more efficient," Sung said.
 
BY LEE HO-JEONG   [lee.hojeong@joongang.co.kr]
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