It’s an ambitious goal, and the clock is ticking.
The planet has already warmed by about 1 C since the start of the industrial era. That might not sound like much, but that first degree is changing the planet in profound ways, from more extreme heat waves that put human health and crops at risk, to rising sea levels.
Bold visions for slowing global warming have emerged from all over the world. Less clear is how countries will meet them.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in announced the Republic of Korea’s 2050 Declaration of Carbon Neutrality in a nationally televised presentation yesterday.
Let’s go in-depth.
Joining me live in the studio – James ROONEY, Vice Chairman of the Seoul Financial Forum and
KIM Joo-jin, Managing Director of Solutions for Our Climate.
Welcome gentlement to News In-depth.
It has become an unavoidable global trend of paradigm shift into a sustainable economy as countries come up with roadmaps to reaching carbon neutrality.
South Korea was the first country in northeast Asia to introduce a nationwide emissions trading system (ETS) in 2015, complying to the pledge made at the Copenhagen Accord of 2009.
What are your overall thoughts about South Korea’s carbon neutrality goals unveiled yesterday and in the last couple of weeks?
South Korea has set ambitious goals in electric mobility as well as becoming a leading exporter of hydrogen and fuel cell vehicles by 2040.
Yet our share of electricity generated from variable renewable sources was just under 4 percent in 2018, far from the 30 to 35-percent envisioned for 2040.
Is this a gap that can be closed in time to reach those goals?
South Korea’s electricity grid is still heavily reliant on dirty energy, with 40-percent powered by coal, the dirtiest of all fossil fuels, and renewables make up less than 6-percent.
The Green New Deal proposed under the Moon administration sets out to introduce a carbon tax, build urban forests, improve the country’s recycling infrastructure and create low-carbon industrial complexes and buildings
But South Korea is under criticism for its international financing of coal projects – especially the backing of an Indonesian coal venture.
What comes first – phasing out coal domestically or ending coal financing abroad?
Now, Europe has proven the efficiency of emissions-trading system(ETS).
The principle is simple in that higher the price, companies have greater incentive to pollute less and invest in low-carbon technology.
What seems to be key though is carbon pricing.
If we look at the European model, the carbon price in Europe is currently at around 27 Euros per ton of carbon dioxide. But in order to reach net zero by 2050, strategists say that the carbon price needs to reach around 90 Euros per ton by 2030.
How do you see the roadmap for carbon pricing in South Korea?
Now, talks at the UN have failed to agree on a common set of rules for international carbon markets.
The lack of global coordination on carbon policy is what led to the EU to draft a carbon border-tax policy.
If it’s cheaper to import polluting goods, it defeats the whole purpose.
One of South Korea’s biggest trading partners, China, is the world’s top greenhouse gas emitter.
Of course China too plans to launch its own national ETS to become carbon neutral by 2060.
From air pollution to such polluting goods, do you think regulatory policies need to be put in place?
Just this week, the US International Trade Commission, for the third time, postponed the final ruling on a trade secret dispute involving South Korean battery makers LG Energy Solution Ltd. and SK Innovation Co.
An adverse ruling could ban SK Innovation from shipping in materials needed to make EV batteries at its U.S. factory in Georgia
LG Energy Solution says the reason for the delay may be COVID-19, while SK Innovation said the U.S. may be weighing the impact of the case on the U.S. economy.
Can you tell us a bit about this and how this drawn-out legal dispute could disrupt the EV parts supply chain?
This pandemic has definitely had “positive” impact in so far as bringing awareness to the importance of climate change and how it can affect the world we live in.
How do you see COVID-19 playing a role in the overall roadmap to reach carbon neutrality by 2050?
James ROONEY, Vice Chairman of the Seoul Financial Forum and KIM Joo-jin, Managing Director of Solutions for Our Climate, many thanks for your insights. We appreciate it.