“We will completely stop public financial support for new overseas coal-fired power plants. There is a need to reduce coal-fired power plants worldwide in order to be carbon neutral.” -President Moon Jae-in
President Moon Jae-in announced at the Climate Summit on the 22nd that South Korea will also participate in the worldwide’declaration of coal de-coal.’ The key is to completely stop public financial support for new overseas coal power plants. In addition, it announced that it will raise the National Greenhouse Gas Reduction Target (NDC) for 2030 within this year and submit it to the United Nations.
Overseas coal investment has been one of the biggest reasons the international community has criticized Korea as a’climate evil authority’. The fact that President Moon pulled out the coal-free card is interpreted as a remark to escape from this stigma. The United States, which hosted the Climate Summit, continued to demand the suspension of the ongoing coal power plant business, taking into consideration the zero overseas coal power generation investments of Korea, China, and Japan, which are representative coal investment countries, as major achievements of this meeting. .
Indeed, Korea is regarded as a major country investing in coal power generation worldwide. According to the’Global Coal Exit List’ released by German environmental group Urgewald, Korea is the ninth largest coal investment country in the world. As of January this year, the total amount of investment in stocks and bonds reached 18 trillion won. Among the investment institutions, the National Pension Service ranked 11th with the largest investment in Korea of 12.65 trillion won.
However, in order to achieve carbon neutrality, as the trend of halting investments in coal power generation has been strengthening internationally, decoking was an inevitable task. Of the 41 countries already under the G20 and OECD, 11 countries, including the UK and the US, have announced the suspension of public financial support for overseas coal power generation, and international financial institutions such as the World Bank, European Investment Bank, and Asian Development Bank have also stopped investing in coal power generation. Announced.
In Korea, KEPCO decided to suspend its new overseas coal power plant business in October last year, and private financial companies such as KB Financial Group and Hanwha Financial Group also announced the suspension of investment in coal power generation.
Only new coal investment is prohibited… “Clear limits”
However, this declaration only applies to new overseas coal power plants. There is no impact on investments in coal-fired power plants in Indonesia and Vietnam, which are currently underway. This is why environmental groups criticize it as “a half-coal declaration.”
Park Ji-hye, an attorney for Climate Solutions, pointed out that “President Moon’s remarks can be evaluated as more advanced than in the past, but the limitations are clear in that it has already decided on two large-scale coal-fired power generation investments and is a declaration that came out of the absence of additional projects.”
In response, an official from the Ministry of Industry said, “Please understand that it was an inevitable decision taking into account the relationship of trust with the partner country and the progress of the project.”
The government decided to speed up the coal de-coaling, including banning the permit for new coal power plants in Korea as well. It plans to shut down 10 decomposed coal power plants that are more than 30 years old by the end of the year, and by 2034, it plans to abolish 28 units, which is half of the current 58 coal power plants, or convert them to LNG fuel.
However, it did not come up with a countermeasure for the seven coal-fired power plants currently under construction. On the day the climate summit was held, a meeting of environmental groups demanding the closure of the coal power plant was held at the Goseong High Thermal Power Plant in Goseong-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do.
In a statement, the Korea Federation for Environmental Movement said in a statement, “The Moon Jae-in administration declared carbon neutrality in 2050 and announced that it would pursue coal reduction policies, but at the same time, coal power generation, the biggest obstacle to carbon neutrality, is showing a contradiction of constructing seven new units. ”He pointed out.
What about the US and Korea that will cut greenhouse gases by half?
President Moon’s declaration that he would raise the National Greenhouse Gas Reduction Target (NDC) in 2030 was an inevitable option for implementing carbon neutrality. At the end of last year, the government set a goal to reduce absolute greenhouse gas emissions by 24.4% compared to 2017 by 2030. However, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has continuously requested the NDC increase, analyzing that the NDCs of each country, including Korea, are far below the level of reduction in achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement.
U.S. President Joe Biden also announced at the Climate Summit on the same day that by 2030, it would reduce US greenhouse gas emissions by 50-52% compared to 2005 levels. Earlier, the UK and the European Union (EU) significantly raised the NDC last year and submitted it to the United Nations.
In the first half of this year, the government is planning to confirm the carbon neutral scenario in 2050, and then through stakeholder gathering in the second half of this year to finalize the NDC upgrade plan in line with carbon neutrality and submit it to the United Nations officially. In addition, starting next year, the company decided to create a climate response fund to support companies’ low carbon transition.
An official from the Ministry of Industry said, “Since the NDC target has a great impact on the national economy, we will determine it to a level that can be endured through sufficient social discussions and agreements.”
Greenpeace policy expert Jang Daul said, “While the United States, the United Kingdom, and Japan have presented more advanced GHG reduction targets, it is not possible to come up with a declaration that fits their responsibilities and capabilities in Korea, which is classified as a major GHG emission country with them. It is regrettable,” he said, “I hope that a reduction target of 50% or more in 2030 that meets the aspiration to become a leading country in responding to the climate crisis is presented.
Reporter Chun Kwon-pil email@example.com