South Korea vows to use international carbon market to meet steeper climate target

Published 03:09 on June 30, 2015  /  Last updated at 16:26 on June 30, 2015  /  Asia Pacific, South Korea  /  No Comments

South Korea will target a cut in greenhouse gas emissions on 37% below business-as-usual in 2030, using the international carbon market to achieve nearly a third of the target, the government said Tuesday.

South Korea will target a cut in greenhouse gas emissions on 37% below business-as-usual in 2030, using the international carbon market to achieve nearly a third of the target, the government said Tuesday.

The government said earlier this month it was considering four options for a 2030 carbon target, ranging from 14-31 below BAU levels, but in a joint statement Tuesday by the ministries of environment, trade and finance, South Korea increased the target to 37%.

The target consists of reducing emissions 25.7% domestically – one of the original options – with an added 11.3% in reductions on top of that, which will be met using the international carbon market.

South Korea said the rules of the Korea ETS would be changed accordingly after 2020, but it did not specify whether the cuts were to be achieved through linking the domestic carbon market with other schemes, or if the government would simply buy foreign offsets.

With nearly a third of the target to be met through an international market, South Korea’s potential international demand would be around 100 million tonnes in the year 2030.

“Even though Korea is considering joining the international market and keeps negotiating with other nations, I personally think that it would be difficult to do so from 2020. It might take much longer,” one ETS participant told Carbon Pulse.

The new target equals an absolute drop of 22.7% from 2014 levels, and brings South Korea roughly in line with neighbouring Japan, which will aim to cut emissions 26% below 2013 levels by 2030.

The government’s estimated 2030 BAU level is 850.6 million tonnes of CO2e, meaning the target limits Korea’s carbon output that year to 535.9 million tonnes. It emitted around 694 million tonnes in 2014.

The Federation of Korean Industries, a business lobby spanning over 30 industry groups, expressed regret over the target, and accused the government of being too eager to please international opinion to properly consider the cost burden the target will put on the domestic economy.

Analysts Climate Tracker Initiative had deemed all four options released previously as “inadequate”.

South Korea’s INDC was published Tuesday evening on a UN website. It is available here.

By Stian Reklev – stian@carbon-pulse.com

To stay updated on countries’ climate pledges, check out our INDC Tracker

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