South Korea – the 10th largest economy and 11th largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world – has pledged to become climate neutral by 2050 and adopted an enhanced 2030 National Emissions Reduction Target. This is a positive and ambitious commitment in view of Korea’s current emissions trajectory and dependency on fossil fuels.
Nevertheless, observers have expressed some doubts regarding Korea’s new 2030 target, pointing out that it falls far short of a fair contribution to the 1.5°C goal of the Paris Agreement. Greater mitigation efforts are called for as well as clarity on turning commitments into policy actions.
Three leading Korean energy think tanks, Green Energy Strategy Institute (GESI), Institute for Green Transformation and NEXT Group, in cooperation with Agora Energiewende, have researched the alternative high ambition roadmap and concrete implementation that Korea should adopt.
The results are very clear: with domestic efforts alone, Korea can achieve a 40 percent emissions reduction by 2030 compared to the country’s 2018 emissions. Furthermore, by accelerating the transition, an additional 1,500 MtCO2 equvialent emissions can be avoided by 2050 compared to current government plans. This is a major opportunity for Korea to honor its international obligations to protect the climate, and also to position itself as a technological leader in the development of zero-emitting technologies.