South Korea is going to step up efforts to develop a transparent, verifiable carbon trading scheme in preparation for its potential entry into an envisioned global carbon market, Seoul’s climate change ambassador noted Friday.
“We are making vigorous efforts to connect the local system to the global (carbon) market and make sure carbon credits are traded under the market-based principle,” Kim Hyo-eun said during a briefing on the outcome of the COP26 held in Glasgow earlier this month.
She also stressed the need to develop an accurate assessment system of carbon footprint and a globally compatible trading system to get closer to its net-zero goal by 2050. In this sense, here is all that you need to know about the Net-zero 2050.
What Is the Net-zero 2050
Net-zero is another term for carbon neutrality which refers to achieving net-zero carbon emission by balancing its emission and removal. Briefly, people minimize carbon dioxide emissions and remove those emitted.
The Goal of Net-zero 2050
Experts found out that at 2 degrees Celsius warming, many places will suffer from natural disasters such as heat extremes and heavy rainfall. But, at 1.5 degrees warming, the threat to biodiversity, health, living, food security, and economic growth will be much lower.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) announced that in order to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees by 2100, global manmade carbon emission should drop by 45 percent from 2010 by 2030 and reach net-zero by 2050.
The Historical Background
The first world conference on the environment was held in Stockholm, Sweden in 1972 when world leaders put environmental issues at the forefront of international concerns.
The second one was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992. This is where the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was signed by 154 states, agreeing to prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system.
The Kyoto Protocol, adopted in 1997, asks industrialized countries to limit and reduce greenhouse gas emissions with an agreed individual target.
The Paris Agreement, adopted at COP 21 in Paris in 2015, is an international treaty legally binding the parties to limit global warming well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees. The commitment period begins in 2021.
The “Climate Villain” Term
South Korea, Asia’s 4th largest economy and the 10th in the world today, rose from one of the poorest countries in the aftermath of the Korean War in just few generations.
Unfortunately, this process made Korea one of the largest emitters of the World. Depending on the institution and the year of measurement, Korea ranks 7th to 11th among the countries that emit the most.
Later on, the country announced its 2030 emission reduction goals a few years ago, but reduction only began last year. Korea is on a tight schedule.
Low Greenhouse Gas Emission Development Strategies (LEDS)
The five key elements of the 2050 vision are:
① Expanding the use of clean power and hydrogen across all sectors.
② Improving energy efficiency to a significant level.
③ Commercial deployment of carbon removal and other future technologies.
④ Scaling up the circular economy to improve industrial sustainability.
⑤ Enhancing carbon sinks.
Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC)
All member states submitted their intended goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to UNFCCC before the Paris Agreement and agreed to make an update by 2020 before the Paris Agreement enter into force in 2021.
Korea’s initial goal set in 2015 was to reduce 37 percent from the Busines-As-Usual (BAU) emissions projection level of 2030.
The Prospects for Carbon Neutrality in Korea
Korea excels in low-carbon technologies such as batteries, electronic and hydrogen vehicles, and solar power generation. Advanced information technology can also be applied for more efficient energy consumption.
President Moon Jae-in’s Green New Deal initiative, aimed at fostering environment-friendly industries for national development, is also in line with the 2050 Net-zero goal.
Can the Net-zero Goal Coincide with the Decommissioning of Nuclear Power Plants?
Indeed, Korea is planning to close nuclear reactors but this won’t happen at once. Korea is continuously phasing out nuclear reactors one by one. Even in 2050, 15 percent of the country’s total energy output will still be nuclear power.
On the other hand, it is natural to replace nuclear power plants with other renewable energy systems. Nuclear power plants are not the panacea to future energy problems.
Nuclear power costs, disposal of nuclear fuel, and the anti-nuclear movements in other developed nations would mean less efficiency economically. In addition, the huge capacity of nuclear power plants makes it difficult to cope with the flood which is expected to increase with climate change.
Investors worldwide are shifting away from a nuclear power plant to other renewable energy sources. In the future, renewable energy will be a crucial part of the industrial ecosystem.
What’s Been Done So Far?
The government announced that it will phase out 30 aging coal power plants by 2034 and convert 24 of them to liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants to reduce the coal production capacity.
Also, this plan includes the rise of the proportion of renewable energy from the current 6.5 percent to 20 percent in 2030. The government is encouraging old diesel car owners for early replacement into electric ones.
World’s largest sea wind power complex with a maximum capacity of 8.2 gigawatts is to be built in Korea’s southwestern region, Sinan. This capacity is equivalent to that of some eight nuclear reactors, and it will cut around 10 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year.
The P4G Summit Korea Hosting in 2021
The Partnering for Green Growth and the Global Goals 2030 (P4G) is an initiative for developing solid public-private partnerships to deliver the Paris Agreement.
It is a collaborative partnership among 12 countries including Korea, Denmark, and the Netherlands as well as partners from the NGO, business, and civil communities.
The inaugural P4G summit was held in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2018. Seoul will be the host of the second summit on May 30-31, 2021.