Net-zero by 2050: South Korea to enshrine new climate target in law

South Korean President Moon Jae-in has declared that the country will achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, bringing its climate commitments in line with the likes of the UK and Japan.

Announced in July as part of the national stimulus planning for Covid-19, the package earmarks $61.9bn for sectors including renewable energy generation and distribution, electric vehicle manufacturing and charging, low-carbon hydrogen and recycling. It is hoped that some 320,000 “green-collar” jobs will be created in the next two years with this support.

While the Green New Deal was broadly welcomed, some green groups argued that it should be backed up legally-binding, ambitious climate targets.

Moon said in his speech that South Korea must “actively respond to climate change… in line with the international community”. Japan notably pledged to legislate for net-zero by 2050 earlier this week and, previously, the UK, EU and New Zealand have set the same deadline. China, the world’s largest emitter, has committed to reaching peak net emissions by 2030 and to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060.

The South Korean Government has committed to bringing coal offline by 2040 but, at present, relies on coal for about 40% of its electricity generation. Moreover, its plans for phasing out coal rely more on gas than on renewables.

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