South Korea South Korea announces three key tasks to attain carbon neutrality

South Korea announces three key tasks to attain carbon neutrality

On January 31, 2023, South Korea Ministry of Environment announced the key tasks for 2023 to enhance the implementation of carbon neutrality. It was structured to foster green industries and use them as new growth opportunities through the three key tasks: (1) strengthening ability to achieve carbon neutrality in response to the climate crisis, (2) shifting to a low-carbon green society based on green industry and technology innovation, and (3) building a transportation system with a focus on clean air and non-polluting vehicles.


The details of the three key tasks are as follows.


(1) Strengthening ability to achieve carbon neutrality in response to the climate crisis

  • Establishment of a national basic plan and promotion of substantial greenhouse gas reductions

In order to achieve the national greenhouse gas reduction target for 2030 (NDC: Nationally Determined Contribution), the National Basic Plan for Carbon Neutrality and Green Growth will be established by March 2023, and the progress of its implementation will be checked every year. In addition, the Fourth Basic Plan for Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading System will be established as soon as possible based on the Implementation Plan for the 2030 National Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets to help companies prepare for mid- and long- term policy changes that will accelerate toward the reduction of greenhouse gases. At the same time, efforts will be made to prevent damage caused by the introduction of the EU’s Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM).


  • Strengthening adaptation measures to prevent damage from the climate crisis

Establish the National Climate Crisis Adaptation Measures 3.5 to reinforce the Third National Climate Crisis Adaptation Measures established in 2020 to make the implementation plan feasible in order to prevent damage from the escalating climate crisis. Also, support for public institutions newly obligated to establish climate crisis adaptation measures will be provided while enhancing government-industry collaboration, expanding industry-specific adaptation consultation body to increase the industry’s ability to adapt to the climate crisis. Furthermore, the scope of climate change impact assessment will be expanded to include the construction of roads, airports, and waste treatment facilities from 2023, requiring planning authorities and operators to establish adaptation measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.


  • Achieving carbon neutrality led by the region and the people together with the international community

In order to promote region-specific carbon neutrality policies, the establishment of carbon neutrality support centers will be expanded to 20 basic local governments, in addition to the existing 17 upper-level local governments (metropolitan government, metropolitan cities, metropolitan autonomous city, provinces, and special self-governing province). The ACT (Assist, Consult, Together) center will be established within the Korea Environment Corporation to support the operation of carbon neutrality support centers. Besides, in order to incorporate the common understanding of carbon neutrality that has been formed in Korean society into daily practice, a national campaign for Carbon Neutral Lifestyle Practice will be promoted. Also, for international environmental cooperation, the project budget for environment-friendly official development assistance (Green ODA) will be greatly expanded.


(2) Shifting to a low-carbon green society based on green industry and technology innovation

  • Promoting green transformation of economic and industrial structure

Various support projects will be newly promoted to stimulate green finance that applies the Korean green classification system which will be enforced from 2023. Strengthen institutional support to enable companies to effectively respond to domestic and international demands for enhanced Environment, Society and Governance (ESG). Also, support projects for the construction of smart ecological factories will be expanded so that manufacturing companies can build and diffuse environmentally friendly production systems.


  • Fostering green industries and technologies and laying the groundwork for green industries to expand overseas

Fully strengthen support for promising green industries to foster them as new growth drivers and support the cultivation of excellent human resources in line with the industry demand. Establish strategies to win orders by business segment to fully promote overseas expansion of the green industry with the aim of winning orders worth 20 trillion won (approximately 2.743 trillion yen) in the green industry sector within 2023. Create tangible results by investing intensively in mission-oriented green technology development that proactively responds to changes in the market and the environment.


  • Building a foundation to diffuse green consumption and environmental education

The eco-label certification system will be reorganized in consideration of consumer experience, and management will be strengthened by preparing guidelines for environmentally friendly management activities and public relations to prevent consumer damage caused by environmental labeling and advertisements. Meanwhile, as environmental education will become mandatory in elementary and junior high schools from March 2023, various projects will be promoted to enhance environmental education in schools as well as to strengthen teachers’ abilities.


(3) Building a transportation system with a focus on clean air and non-polluting vehicles

  • Protecting the public from air pollutants

In order to reduce air pollutants, standards for air quality including average annual concentration of ultrafine dust will be strengthened, in accordance with the goals of the Third Comprehensive Plans to Improve Atmospheric Environment and the strengthened air quality guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO). Smoothly implement the key tasks of the Fourth Fine Dust Seasonal Management System which went into effect in December 2022, and evaluate its effectiveness by May 2023. Expand support and promote technology development to reduce pollutants at business sites and other familiar places. Promote the development of technologies for the comprehensive management of air pollutants, including measurement and analysis of air pollution and reduction of air pollution, as well as technologies for making construction equipment pollution-free.


  • Creating the environmental industry of the future by shifting to zero emission vehicles

Expand support to accelerate the conversion to zero emission vehicles and give impetus to the construction of electric vehicle chargers and hydrogen vehicle charging stations to bring about an era of 700,000 zero emission vehicles cumulatively. Focus on the creation of the charging environment for zero emission vehicles which is more convenient than gas stations. Create demand in the public and private sectors to expand the use of zero emission vehicles and encourage automakers to increase supply.


  • Promoting reduction of internal combustion vehicles

In order to reduce the number of internal combustion engine vehicles, the scope of the early scrapping support program will be expanded from the existing class 5 vehicles to class 4 vehicles, and standards for average greenhouse gas emissions for compact vehicles will be strengthened.


The original text of this article can be found at the following URL (in Korean).

Author / Responsibility

AOKI Kenji

Senior Consultant, EnviX Ltd.
General Director, E&H Consulting Co., Ltd.

Business Performance

Expertise in EHS (environment, health and safety) consulting in ASEAN region.
- Environmental regulations updating
- Chemical regulations consulting


MSc in Earth Science, The University of Tokyo

AOKI Kenji