South Korea joins China, Japan in pledge to be carbon neutral

South Korea has pledged to target carbon neutrality by 2050.

This comes on the back of China’s declaration for net-zero emissions by 2060 and Japan’s aim for carbon neutrality by 2050.

President Moon Jae-in revealed the plan to tackle the climate crisis during a policy address to the National Assembly.

Photo by Zequn Gui

South Korea’s president said the country will respond to climate change together with the international community. He added that the government would “replace coal power with renewables,” with  plans to invest in the Green New Deal, covering green infrastructure, electric vehicles, and renewables. 

“We welcome President Moon Jae-in’s declaration to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. South Korea is finally one step closer to aligning itself with the reduction pathway compatible with Paris Agreement goals.

However, there is much to be done to make this declaration actually meaningful. The most urgent tasks are enhancing its 2030 emissions reduction target, presenting a clear roadmap to phase out coal by 2030, and putting a complete stop to coal financing.”

Joojin Kim, managing director of Seoul-based NGO Solutions for Our Climate

Solutions for Our Climate (SFOC) is an independent policy research and advocacy group that aims to decarbonize Korea’s power sector. 

“Net-zero 2050” cannot be accomplished without fundamental changes in South Korea’s energy policy, said SFOC in a statement. South Korea must stop building new coal power plants, and start replacing the existing coal fleet with renewables supply, the group said.

South Korea relies on coal power for more than 40% of its electricity generation, contributing to nearly a third of national greenhouse gas emissions. The country is currently constructing seven coal power units, and is one of the top three public financiers of overseas coal power projects, mostly in Asia.