Presidential body proposes much steeper emission cuts
A government body proposed Friday to substantially increase Korea's emissions reductions by 2030 beyond the current target of 26.3 percent, despite protests from domestic industries.
The 2050 Carbon Neutral Committee, a body under the direct authority of the president, announced Friday that it proposed an update to the country’s 2030 nationally determined contributions (NDC) targets, which, if adopted, would cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent from the country’s peak in 2018.
A decision on the final plan is due later this month and will set the nation’s emissions policy for the coming decade.
NDCs are pledges on climate action submitted by countries under the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius and preferably to 1.5 degrees over pre-industrial levels.
The committee’s plan significantly increases sector-specific reductions for manufacturing, construction, transportation, agriculture, fisheries, and waste.
In a report to the United Nations last December, Korea presented its target for reducing total greenhouse gas emissions by 24.4 percent from 2017 levels by 2030 as a part of its commitment to the Paris Agreement. The 26.3 percent reduction target is from 2018 levels.
On Sept. 1, the National Assembly passed the Carbon Neutrality Act, which goes beyond the existing target and requires the government to achieve a 35 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
After reaching its peak in 2018, Korea has reduced emissions more than 10 percent over the following two years.
The presidential carbon committee’s latest plan was met with serious concerns from domestic industries, which argued the proposed time frame of eight years to achieve a 40 percent reduction was unrealistic.
The country’s energy-intensive oil, metal, and cement industries, which have already achieved a 42 percent reduction in carbon emissions since the 1992 Kyoto Protocol was signed, have expressed concerns that further reductions in emissions are not possible without sharp cuts in production.
The difficulty faced by such industries is exemplified by the country’s leading steel producer, Posco, which has set a 10 percent reduction target by 2030.
Without breakthroughs in technology, the company will be forced to reduce steel production by 1 million tons to reach the proposed 40 percent emissions reduction target, according to a company source who spoke to the JoongAng Ilbo.
BY MICHAEL LEE [email@example.com]
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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