S Korea vows ‘bold’ climate policy after accusations of inaction

South Korea’s climate envoy promised “bold” policy changes from Seoul as one of Asia’s largest greenhouse gas emitters has been forced to fail to act more vigorously to combat change. in climate.

President Moon Jae-in in October pledged that South Korea can achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, following a similar move by the EU, Japan and China.

But the Moon administration’s claims have drawn criticism from environmentalists, who say South Korea has failed to present a solid plan for cutting coal and increasing the reforms to scale. necessary to fulfill its obligations in accordance with the climate of Paris.

Yoo Yeon-chul, South Korea’s ambassador for climate change, said Seoul bureaucrats are “making heavy efforts” to come up with “ways and means” for achieving target.

“We’re going to take bold steps in the end,” he told the Financial Times.

Jeehye Park, director of the coal program at Solutions for Our Climate, a Seoul-based non-governmental organization, noted that power plants were even built in South Korea, means that the use of fossil fuel may not be eliminated until 2054.

Coal accounts for nearly 40 percent of South Korea’s electricity production, and a quarter of national emissions.

Eliminating coal -fired power by the end of the decade will both lead to an economy that relies on manufacturing to comply with Paris’s climate, and mean 18,000 fewer people will die prematurely from diseases associated with air pollution, according to Climate Analytics, an international. research group.

“Because of the bad future of coal that is already predicted, which will continue destructive projects, taking people’s health and life expectancy as misconduct,” Park said.

South Korea is to host its first multilateral climate conference this month, the P4G summit. Ahead of the event, Al Gore, the former U.S. vice president and a leading climate campaigner, wrote to Moon, urging him to act faster.

Under South Korea’s climate plan, last updated in December, the country is set to cut emissions 24.4 percent from 2017 levels by 2030. But Gore pointed to research that has shown that cutting at least 50 percent required for South Korea to remain in line with a 1.5C global target in the Paris agreement.

Countries that signed up to the Paris deal have learned to limit global warming to “below 2C, and hopefully close to 1.5C, compared to pre-industrial levels at the end of the century. .

“The economic risks due to unemployment are also accelerating,” warns Gore, given the importance of cutting emissions “especially for trade-oriented economies like South Korea that face the prospect of carbon boundary fixes ”.

Yoo, who has been involved in South Korea’s climate policy and negotiations since the early 1990s, is recognized for three decades in Seoul. environmental policies ultimately resulting in increased greenhouse gas emissions.

He said an improved climate plan had been developed and could be “announced” at COP26, the world climate conference scheduled to be held in Glasgow in November.

Yoo stressed that South Korea is committed to a “step-by-step” approach, deploying financial and technical assistance and capacity building to help companies in Asia’s fourth-largest economy. switch in a cleaner economy.

He also appointed the government record the stimulus package in response to the coronavirus pandemic, which included funding focused on energy efficiency, renewable technologies and hydrogen, and Moon’s decision last month to end funding to state banks for coal projects abroad.

South Korea was the eighth largest carbon emitter in the world last year, and Asia the fourth largest behind China, India and Japan, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, a US -based group.

“From now on, the story will be different,” Yoo said.

Climate Capital

Where climate change meets business, markets and politics. Analysis here is the scope of FT

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