South Korea Korea finalizes carbon neutral scenario and GHG reduction targets

South Korea’s Ministry of Environment announced that it has deliberated and finalized 2050 carbon neutral scenario and nationally determined contribution (NDC) target for 2030 at the State Council on October 27, 2021. The 2050 carbon neutral scenario outlines policy directions for reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in each of the major sectors including conversion, industry, buildings, and transportation, and suggests the use of carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) and the expansion of sinks. The nationally determined contribution target for 2030, which is an interim target of the 2050 carbon neutrality, is a 40% reduction from the 2018 level through sectoral reduction plans and the use of sinks.

 

Since the declaration of carbon neutrality in October 2020, the South Korean government has been considering the 2050 carbon neutral scenario and the upward revision of the nationally determined contribution target for 2030 through joint efforts of relevant departments. After the discussion of the committee on carbon neutrality and the gathering of the opinions of stakeholders, the carbon neutral scenario and the reduction target were approved in the general meeting of the committee on October 18, 2021. The main contents of the scenario and the contribution target are as follows.

 

The 2050 carbon neutral scenario presents a vision of the future Korean society that will achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 and suggests policy directions for each of the major sectors, including conversion, industry, buildings, and transportation. The 2050 carbon neutral scenario consists of two options:

Plan A, which maximizes the reduction of emissions through measures such as total suspension of thermal power generation; and
Plan B, which proactively utilizes CCUS and other greenhouse gas reduction technologies while retaining liquefied natural gas (LNG) power generation.

In both plans, the net GHG in 2050 will be “0.” The main details for each sector, including conversion, industry, transportation, and buildings, are as follows.

  • Conversion sector: Both Plan A and Plan B include the suspension of coal power generation and a significant increase in the weight of renewable energy generation. Plan A proposes to suspend all thermal power generation including LNG power generation and to produce the required electricity without emitting carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gas.
  • Industrial sector: The scenario includes the introduction of process technologies that do not emit GHG, such as hydrogen reduction steelmaking, and the replacement of fossil fuels and raw materials with recycled ones.
  • Buildings sector: The scenario includes improvement of the energy efficiency of buildings through means such as energy reduction (zero energy) buildings and eco-friendly remodeling (green remodeling).
  • Transportation sector: The scenario proposes to reduce the volume of passenger car traffic by increasing the use of public transportation, and to increase the penetration rate of non-polluting vehicles to 85%, or 97% or higher.
  • Agriculture, livestock, and fisheries sector: Expansion of low-carbon farming methods is planned.
  • Waste sector: The plan to reduce GHG to the maximum extent possible through measures such as waste reduction, expansion of recycling, and utilization of biogas energy was clarified.

Through the reduction of emissions in these major sectors, as well as the use of CCUS and the expansion of sinks, the net emissions of GHG in 2050 will be “0”.

 

On the same day, the State Council decided to upwardly revise the nationally determined contribution target for 2030, which is an interim target of the 2050 carbon neutrality, to reduce by 40% from the 2018 level by 2030. The main contents of the proposed revision of the target are as follows.

  • Conversion sector: The weight of coal power generation will be reduced to about 50% of the 2018 level, and emissions in 2030 will be reduced by 44.4% from the 2018 level through a significant expansion of new renewable energy sources.
  • Industry sector: Emissions in 2030 will be reduced by 14.5% from the 2018 level through process changes in the steel industry, such as electric furnaces, and conversion of petrochemical raw materials utilizing bio-naphtha.
  • Buildings sector: Reduce emissions in 2030 by 32.8% from the 2018 level by encouraging energy-reducing (zero-energy) buildings and promoting energy-efficient equipment.
  • Transportation sector: Reduce emissions in 2030 by 37.8% from the 2018 level by installing more than 4.5 million non-polluting vehicles.
  • Agriculture, livestock, and fisheries sector: Promotion of low-carbon farming methods and expansion of supply of low-methane feed
  • Waste sector: Reduce emissions in 2030 by 27.1% from the 2018 level through waste reduction and increased recycling, and by 46.8% through promotion of bioplastics and other measures.

 

In addition to sectoral reductions, 26.7 million tons of GHG will be absorbed in 2030 through the conservation and restoration of sinks, and the introduction of CCUS and overseas reduction projects will also be promoted. Through the sectoral reduction plans and the utilization of sinks, GHG are planned to be reduced from 727.6 million tons in 2018 to 436.6 million tons in 2030 (40% reduction).