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South Korea to raise emissions reduction goal to 40% by 2030

Vehicles move on a road on a polluted day in Seoul, South Korea, March 12, 2019. REUTERS-Kim Hong-ji

South Korea’s government on Friday said it would raise its greenhouse gas reduction goal from 26.3 per cent to 40 per cent by 2030, as part of efforts to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

The revised nationally determined contribution (NDC) was proposed by the ruling party in June and will be officially introduced at the 26th U.N. Climate Change Conference in Glasgow in November, with a government plan presented to the United Nations in December.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in has proposed a “Green New Deal” aimed at helping his country bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic while eventually reaching the goal of zero emissions by 2050.

“I believe we are living in an unprecedented era that we have never seen or heard of,” Jeon Eui-chan, the chairman of the presidential committee on carbon neutrality told a televised conference on Friday, noting that assessment reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded that humankind is living under atmospheric CO2 concentrations higher than at any time in at least 2 million years.

Environmental groups have welcomed South Korea’s vows to reduce emissions but criticised the goals as too low.

Seoul-based Solutions for Our Climate said the provisional target is still insufficient to meet Paris Agreement goals and irresponsibly relies on overseas reductions.

“Korea needs at least a 59% domestic reduction in emissions below 2017 levels by 2030 to do its fair share under the Paris Agreement,” Joojin Kim, managing director of the advocacy group said in a statement.

“Korea is lagging behind many advanced economies committing to at least halving their emissions by the end of the decade.”

The revised NDC is a “very bold aim compared to other nations”, South Korea’s government said in a statement.

When the 40% goal was first proposed over the summer, Climate Action Tracker said it represented a significant improvement to the country’s initial 2030 target, but is not yet aligned to what is needed to reach global Paris Agreement goals.

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