South Korea Korea proposes to refuse new registrations of internal combustion engine vehicles

under Motor Vehicle Management Act

Korea proposes to refuse new registrations of internal combustion engine vehicles

On November 3, 2021, Yoon Joon Byeong, a member of the Environment and Labor Committee, made a representative motion to amend the Motor Vehicle Management Act in order to promote the transition to a carbon neutral society through substantial and proactive greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction. With regard to the proposed amendment, a legislative notice is being presented to the effect that the mayor/governor of a city/province should refuse to register a new internal combustion engine vehicle (including hybrid vehicles under Article 2, Item 5 of the Act on the Development and Promotion of Environmentally Friendly Vehicles) from January 1, 2035 (Article 9, Item 5-2). The current law stipulates that a vehicle (excluding a motorcycle) may not be operated until they have been registered in the registry of motor vehicles upon application for registration to the mayor/governor of special metropolitan city, metropolitan city, metropolitan autonomous city, province, or special self-governing province. In some cases, the mayor/governor of a city/province may refuse to register the vehicle.

Given the seriousness of the climate crisis, including natural disasters brought about by the recent rapid climate change, a proactive and realistic plan to reduce GHG is required. Mr. Yoon explained that the road transportation sector accounts for 11.9% of South Korea’s total GHG emissions, and in order to achieve carbon neutral, which means net zero GHG emissions, by 2050, it is necessary to restrict the operation of internal combustion engine vehicles. The proposed amendment aims to promote the transition to a carbon neutral society by letting mayor/governor of a city/province refuse new registrations of internal combustion engine vehicles from 2035, thereby contributing to the promotion of public welfare.

As for examples other than South Korea, the Netherlands and Norway have declared that they will ban the sale of new internal combustion engine vehicles in 2025, followed by Germany, India, and Israel in 2030, the United Kingdom and California (USA) in 2035, and France, Spain, Taiwan, and Singapore in 2040. Other major countries and global automakers are also taking drastic measures, such as suspending the production of internal combustion engine vehicles, in order to significantly reduce GHG emissions.

Mr. Yoon argues that “the greenhouse gas emitted by vehicles over the past 135 years have returned as a serious boomerang that accelerates the climate and environmental crisis, posing common issue for humanity that must be urgently solved.” He added, “A recent survey showed that 86.7% of the public agreed that the current climate change is a ‘climate crisis,’ and 62.1% agreed with the government’s carbon neutral policy. The fact shows that the public is sympathetic to the era’s direction of carbon neutrality.” Furthermore, Mr. Yoon said, “Since 2050 carbon neutrality and the process of making the right transition toward it will hit the industrial sector, it is necessary to prepare national support and government policy support for the industrial sector in consideration of the impact on the market.” He expressed his determination to do his best at the parliamentary level to drive the realization of carbon neutrality.


The bill to partially amend the Motor Vehicle Management Act (Bill No. 2113093) can be viewed at the following URL (in Korean).

Author / Responsibility


Senior Research Associate, Research & Consulting Dept. EnviX Ltd.

Business Performance

In charge of South Asia (India, Bangladesh, etc.), South Korea, Latin America (Mexico, Colombia, etc.) and Turkey for managing infomation on the environmental regulations


MA, Environment, Development and Policy, University of Sussex