South Korea lowers 2030 industrial emissions reduction targets


South Korea on Tuesday revised down its 2030 greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets for the industrial sector, but kept its commitment to reducing carbon emissions by 40% of 2018 levels in what it called a reasonable adjustment.

This marks the first annual and sector-specific emissions reduction targets proposed by President Yoon Suk Yeol. As one of the world's most fossil-fuel dependent economies, South Korea has been striving to attain carbon neutrality by 2050.

Under the plan, the industrial sector will be required to cut emissions by 11.4% from the 2018 levels by 2030, compared to the 14.5% set in late 2021, the Presidential Commission on Carbon Neutrality and Green Growth said.

To make up for the shortfall, the country will focus on transitioning to more renewable energy sources and achieving more emissions reductions overseas, the commission said.

South Korea's goal is to use less carbon-intensive energy sources to reduce carbon emissions by 45.9% from the 2018 levels by 2030, an increase from the earlier target of 44.4%.

"We've eased industrial reduction targets in light of realistic domestic conditions including raw material supply and technology prospects," the commission said in a statement.

"In the energy sector, the target was raised to further reduce greenhouse gases through a balanced energy mix between nuclear power and renewables, and by accelerating the shift to clean energy such as solar and hydrogen.

As part of the efforts, South Korea plans to increase its nuclear energy production to 32.4% of total power output by 2030, up from 27.4% in 2021, while increase its renewables to at least 21.6% of power production from 7.5%, the Commission said.

Yoon, who took office in May, has scrapped his predecessor's drive to phase out nuclear energy and pledged to expand it to more than 30% of the energy mix.

Coal currently supplies more than 40% of South Korea’s electricity consumption. Although the country has pledged to halve the share by 2030, environmental groups such as Greenpeace have criticized the targets as being insufficient and have condemned the country's plans to build more coal-fired power plants.

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