Republic of Korea
In this year’s CCPI, the Republic of Korea (ROK; South Korea) remains at 60th place and remains a very low performer. South Korea receives very low ratings across the GHG Emissions, Renewable Energy and Energy Use categories and a low rating in Climate Policy.
South Korea submitted its updated NDC
In December 2021, South Korea submitted its updated Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) target for 2030, aiming to reduce emissions by 40% below 2018 levels and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.
The CCPI experts welcome this increase of GHG emission targets from 26.3% to 40%, but they criticise the government’s plans to reduce the renewable energy target from 30% to only 21.5% by 2030. CCPI experts stress that South Korea must raise its climate ambitions by enhancing its 2030 renewable energy target to above 30% and phase out coal by 2030.
The CCPI experts note that complicated permit schemes and grid access challenges are already hindering the necessary expansion of renewable energy in South Korea. They also highlight that the current power market is structured to favour fossil fuels over renewable energy and enable the majority state-owned utility company KEPCO to continue fossil fuel subsidies. The CCPI experts stress that South Korea needs to not only return to its former target of 30% renewable energy by 2030 but also to increase its commitment. In its updated NDC, South Korea also included sections on improving sustainable forest management and maintaining forests. The CCPI experts note that environmental groups in the country have condemned the South Korea Forest Service’s plans to log older trees and replant with new trees to increase carbon absorption.
Over the short term, fossil fuel support is likely to increase
South Korea’s natural gas subsidies and overseas gas field projects are expected to increase, at least over the short term, as the country has set aside funds for a new offshore gas project in Barossa, Australia in May 2022. Considering the need to eliminate fossil fuel reliance as soon as possible, the CCPI experts criticise this move by their government and demand that it discontinues its subsidies of national gas and overseas gas field projects.
The following national experts agreed to be mentioned as contributors for this year’s CCPI: