SEOUL, Nov. 17 (UPI) — South Korea said it would cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2020.
The target, announced Tuesday, is roughly equivalent to cutting greenhouse gas emissions 4 percent by 2020 compared with 2005. In so doing, the government aims to cut the 2020 “business as usual” projection from 813 million tons of emissions to approximately 569 million tons.
South Korea’s decision comes on the heels of a weekend meeting in which Asia-Pacific leaders conceded that a binding global accord on emissions is not reachable in Copenhagen at the U.N.-sponsored climate-change summit next month, aiming instead for a political deal.
“South Korea’s voluntary target will stimulate efforts by the global community despite the pessimistic outlook for the Copenhagen meeting,” President Lee Myung-Bak said in a statement Tuesday.
Lee’s statement said South Korea’s target-setting was a “unilateral action” separate from the Copenhagen summit’s outcome and carbon emission cuts of other countries.
With the voluntary target-setting, South Korea aims to position itself as a bridge between developed and emerging economies in international negotiations, the statement said.
“We should have waited before announcing the target” until other nations released their goals and a binding global accord was reached, Lee Sang Youp, a research fellow at Korea Environment Institute, told Bloomberg.
The government has weighed three plans since August: cutting emissions by up to 4 percent by the end of the next decade from 2005 levels; capping them at the 2005 output; or allowing an 8 percent emissions increase by 2020.
Korea was the 16th-largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world in 2005, producing 538 million tons of carbon dioxide, according to the International Energy Agency. If no actions are taken to curtail emissions, the country’s production of greenhouse gases is projected to grow 37 percent by 2020, said Kim Sang-hyup, the secretary to the president for national future and vision, the JoonAng Daily reports.
While advanced nations tend to make public commitments for an absolute amount of reduction from 2005 levels, South Korea chose to base its target on the “business as usual” approach, said Kim. Economic ministers said the method could possibly curb negative impacts on business.
Meanwhile, a Korea Times editorial said corporations and business lobbying groups quickly protested the government’s move, claiming that the target is too high for them.
Kim said the specific goals of emission cuts for “each industry and each company” would be decided next year.
Copyright 2009 by United Press International