South Korea is the latest country to declare its carbon neutrality target by the year 2050, according to President Moon Jae In.
In his policy speech at the South Korean national assembly on Wednesday, October 28, Moon declared: "As part of the efforts to actively respond to climate change, we will strive to become carbon-neutral by 2050."
South Korea remains largely dependent on imported coal - providing for 40 percent of the Asian nation's energy requirements, according to data from the International Energy Agency.
A $2.1 Billion First Step
In an article from the Agence France-Presse, appearing in Barron's, Moon announced that to start its environmental efforts, Seoul will be investing 2.4 trillion won, or about $2.1 billion. South Korea will "replace coal-based energy production with renewable energy" next year, to be followed by another 4.3 trillion won, or $3.8 billion, for charging stations for electric vehicles.
The South Korean administration has announced earlier that its 60 coal power plants will be down to half by 2034, bringing liquefied natural gas plants, as well as solar and wind resources, in the next five years to cover the nation's energy requirements.
Another challenge in South Korea's road to less emission is its strong anti-nuclear power stance. Moon's administration is also looking to cut Seoul's 24 nuclear power plants, one of the densest in the world, down to 17 also in 2034. The slash equates to almost half of the energy sector's output, turning to LNG, solar, and wind energy sources.
"'Net-zero 2050' cannot be accomplished without fundamental changes in South Korea's energy policy," said Joojin Kim, a lawyer with the environmental nonprofit Solutions for Our Climate. He added that South Korea must immediately stop the creation of new coal power plants and start shifting existing coal plants with renewable sources.
Asian Powers Committing To Fight Climate Change
The announcement from South Korea follows its neighbors China and Japan in the global fight against climate change. Last month, at the United Nations General Assembly, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged to turn the industrial giant into a carbon-neutral nation by 2060. Addressing the rest of the UN Assembly in New York through videoconference, Xi announced that China would be hitting its peak emissions before 2030, steadily inching toward the 2060 carbon neutrality target.
Xi Jinping also reiterated China's support for the Paris Accord - a global agreement between close to 200 countries in the fight against climate change - with his announcement earning praise from environmentalists worldwide, especially since China alone accounts for more than a quarter of global carbon dioxide emissions.
Additionally, Japan has also declared its carbon-neutrality goals. Its new prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, said that the world's third-largest economy would be neutral by 2050.
"Responding to climate change is no longer a constraint on economic growth," Suga said during his first policy address to the Japanese parliament since being elected to the position on September 14, 2020. The announcement most likely follows pressure exerted on the island nation to adopt more aggressive climate countermeasures after first aiming for 80 percent reduction in its carbon footprint before attaining carbon neutrality "as soon as possible."
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