School vehicles will start going green next yearAround 80,000 school vehicles across the nation will be replaced with either electric or hydrogen models starting next year, according to officials on Wednesday.
The Ministry of Environment announced its plan to replace all diesel-fueled 15-person vans with more sustainable models by 2035, during a ministerial meeting at the Government Complex Sejong.
The 15-person vans are the most commonly used vehicles for Korean preschools, elementary schools and hagwon (cram schools).
Stating the need to protect the nation’s air quality and the children’s health, officials said that these vehicle swaps are necessary in the long run.
The government has organized a three-stage road map for the next 15 years to complete the nationwide conversion to sustainable school vans.
The first stage, to begin next year, will be a trial run with decrepit school vehicles used at public preschools and elementary schools.
A total of 300 diesel-fueled vehicles that were manufactured before 2010 will be chosen by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Environment to be replaced with electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles.
The public institutions that are chosen for the trial run will receive a fixed amount of financial support from their local governments to buy the new sustainable vehicles and install a charging station within the building, in the case of electric vehicles.
In stage two, around 45,000 vans manufactured before 2015 that are used at both public and private institutions will be switched out with pollution-free vehicles by 2030.
In the third and final stage, about 38,000 cars that were manufactured after 2016 will complete the replacements between 2030 and 2035 to reach the final goal of converting all of the nation’s 15-person school vehicles into sustainable models.
Currently, of the roughly 83,000 school vehicles that are registered, around 73,000, or 88 percent, are diesel-fueled.
There are only 11 electric school vans that are operating in Korea as of today.
Vehicle swaps by the private institutions will be key in ensuring a smooth national turnover to sustainable school vans.
The government plans to gradually designate more air control zones under the Special Act on the Improvement of Air Quality, especially around school properties, which limits the entrance of diesel transit vehicles in the zones.
The government also said that it will review possible revisions to the Clean Air Conservation Act to require pollution-free vehicles for all educational facilities.
“The recent announcement was significant in that it included the government’s first official road map to replace diesel-fueled school vehicles with sustainable ones,” said Kim Hyo-jeong, manager of the future air strategy team at the Ministry of Environment.
“But in order for the plan to be successful, the government must mandate vehicle swaps for both public and private institutions.”
BY JUNG JONG-HUN, LEE JIAN [email@example.com]
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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