December 10, 2020
By Sangmi Cha
SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Thursday urged citizens to work together toward a greener economy and vowed to support low-carbon technologies in an address aimed at rallying citizens behind his pledge to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
Moon was speaking after the release this week of a broad plan to achieve that goal by taking a more proactive approach towards greenhouse gases reduction than the adaptive path the country is currently pursuing.
It is an ambitious step for South Korea, one of the world’s most fossil-fuel reliant economies, where coal makes up 40% of the country’s electricity mix and renewable power less than 6%.
“We have to reduce energy transition costs through technological advancement. The Government will provide firm support so that our signature technologies can lead the world and become future growth engines,” Moon said in a televised speech, wearing a tie made of fabrics from plastic wastes.
“Before it is too late, let’s start right now.”
The authorities on Monday said they plan on shifting the country’s industry from fossil fuels to a renewable based system.
They also want to expedite their goal of having 1.13 million electric vehicles (EVs) and 200,000 hydrogen cars on the roads by 2025, up from 91,000 and 5,000 each at the end of 2019, while ensuring the 20 million households nationwide have access to charging batteries at home.
Moon pledged to spend 8 trillion won ($7.10 billion) on an earlier announced “Green New Deal” aimed at creating jobs and economic recovery from the coronavirus fallout that includes remodelling public buildings, creating urban forests, and creating low-carbon energy industrial complexes.
A survey by pollster Realmeter this week showed 42.4% of the public agreed that carbon neutrality should be expedited ahead of 2050, while 28.7% said the goal was early enough.
Environmental groups had welcomed the commitment by Asia’s fourth biggest economy to reach net-zero emissions and had hoped the country’s industry would swiftly shift from fossil fuels to a 100% renewable based system.
In November, during a call with U.S. President-elect Joe Biden, Moon vowed to promote economic relations with the United States by building a carbon neutral economy.
(Reporting by Sangmi Cha; Additional reporting by Cynthia Kim, Editing by William Maclean)
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