Gov't Targets 37% Cut in Greenhouse Gas Emissions

      November 30, 2015 13:13

      The government plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 37 percent by 2030 relative to the "business as usual" (BAU) scenario. The plan was submitted to the UN in June and the target will become binding if it is adopted at the imminent climate change conference in Paris.

      BAU is the level of greenhouse gas emissions the country is forecast to reach by a certain year if emissions grow at the current pace, so the actual reduction compared to the present may be less impressive.

      In Korea's case that is projected at 850 million tons by 2030, but Seoul intends to limit that to 536 million tons.

      Still, Korea's reduction target is more ambitious than expected. The government originally targeted just 14.7 to 31.3 percent, but raised the target following calls for more ambitious goals by the world's 13th-largest economy.

      U.S. President Barack Obama reportedly called President Park Geun-hye to make a request to that effect.

      Korea's greenhouse gas emissions totaled 688.3 million tons in 2012, or 1.4 percent of the global total and among the world’s top 10. Per-capita emissions totaled 13.8 tons.

      It is unclear whether Korea can meet the goal. The government says a 25.7 percent reduction can be achieved on the domestic front while the rest will be achieved with carbon-trading deals by building eco-friendly infrastructure and planting trees overseas.

      Skeptics beg to differ. One environmentalist said, "The government has no concrete plans how to achieve the target overseas. Supposing you plant trees in North Korea, for example, it takes a long time for forests to form and will have a minimal effect on reducing greenhouse gas emissions."

      He added that the government was too hasty in setting the goal and did not spend enough time looking into the details.

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