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South Korea passes bill to mandate carbon neutrality by 2050

03 September 2021 IHS Markit Energy Expert

South Korea passed a bill mandating national carbon neutrality by 2050, becoming the 14th country in the world to legislate a carbon target, the country's environment ministry said in a statement 2 September.

The country's National Assembly passed the Carbon Neutrality and Green Growth Act, which in addition to the 2050 goal, also requires South Korea to cut GHG emissions by 35% or more from its 2018 levels by 2030.

The bill was approved with 109 lawmakers voting in favor and 42 against.

The ruling Democratic Party has a super majority in the National Assembly to move the motion over the objections of the rival People Power Party, which is opposed to President Moon Jae-in's climate policies, which include expansions of South Korea's solar, electric vehicle, hydrogen, and offshore wind capabilities. The legislation will become law after Moon signs it.

The act includes various policy options to help meet the carbon neutrality target such as the setting of emissions reduction targets when drafting national budgets, the ministry said. A climate response fund will also be established to support the transformation of industrial processes towards emissions reductions.

"With the enactment of the Carbon Neutrality Act, we now have the basis on which we could pursue our carbon-neutral policies for the next 30 years... a mid-to-long term greenhouse gas emission reduction target will be set within the range defined by the Act," environment minister Han Jeoung-ae said in the statement.

On 28 October 2020, Moon outlined plans for carbon neutrality by 2050.

The target represented a significant ramp up from the pledge in South Korea's first National Determined Contribution to the Paris Agreement to reduce GHG emissions by 37% from a business-as-usual path by 2030, equivalent to a 24% reduction compared with the 2017 levels, IHS Markit Associate Director Vince Heo told Net-Zero Business Daily in March.

"The power sector accounts for 41% of South Korea's emissions, and has been the main focus of strategic planning to date, but further plans are needed to decarbonize other sectors as well, particularly transportation," Heo said.

In 2019, South Korea emitted an estimated 679 million metric tons CO2 equivalent of GHGs, making it the world's 10th-largest GHG source, according to IHS Markit estimates.

--Original reporting by Patrick Han, OPIS.

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