South Korea’s climate pledge seen as too weak

Published 02:46 on July 3, 2015  /  Last updated at 16:59 on October 8, 2018  /  Asia Pacific, South Korea  /  No Comments

South Korea this week submitted steeper-than-expected greenhouse gas emission reduction targets to the UN, but the pledge is still far weaker than what Seoul should deliver, according to analysts.

South Korea this week submitted steeper-than-expected greenhouse gas emission reduction targets to the UN, but the pledge is still far weaker than what Seoul should deliver, according to analysts.

The government on Tuesday said it would reduce domestic emissions 25.7% below BAU levels by 2030 and achieve a further 11.3% of cuts through the international carbon market, taking the total target to 36%.

The final pledge was more ambitious than the four options it had released earlier, which ranged from 14 to 31%, and domestic industry quickly attacked the government for setting what it said was excessive targets, but analysts remain unimpressed by South Korea’s efforts.

“South Korea appears to have listened to criticism of its draft proposals, and scrambled to add more, but international trading will not address the fact that its domestic emissions are projected to double in 2030. This is not an effort to help hold warming to 2C,” said Kornelis Blok with consultancy Ecofys, which is part of the Climate Action Tracker initiative.

Climate Action Tracker has released an analysis update, ranking the Korean plan “inadequate”.

The pledge suggests South Korea aims to limit emissions in 2030 to around 536 million tonnes of CO2e, while the Climate Action Tracker report said it would need to go below 500 million tonnes to be rated “medium”.

It said the nation should set a national, legally binding target instead of relying on BAU assumptions, which can always be contested. It also said the lack of a 2025 milestone target in the plan might lock in inadequate emission levels, and that the fact that the plan did not include LULUCF could present a problem.

The South Korea chapter of green group WWF was also unimpressed by the INDC.

“The reliance on a weak global carbon market is dubious,” WWF’s Jean-Paul Paddock told Carbon Pulse.

“Korea so far only has some domestic non-binding targets, and given its increasingly political, engineering and economic weight in the global economy, one could argue that Korea can and should do more than upping its reduction compared to a Business-As-Usual expectation by 2030 and go for an absolute GHG/CO2 emission reduction target of a significant percentage below 2005,” he said.

By Stian Reklev – stian@carbon-pulse.com

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

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