Greenhouse Gas Control Policies in South Korea

May 7, 2012, 1:36 pm
Source: Crs

See also: Overview of Greenhouse Gas Control Policies in Various Countries

Overall GHG emission target and timing

[1]On November 17, 2009, the South Korean cabinet approved a 4% GHG emission reduction target by 2020 as a basis for its current and future climate change efforts. The goal is measured from a 2005 baseline and is equivalent to a 30% reduction from “business-as-usual.” The target is the most ambitious of three options recommended by the country’s Presidential Committee on Green Growth, which had urged South Korea to voluntarily participate in climate change efforts under a midterm target of either an 8% increase, no change, or a 4% cut. President Lee Myung-bak said in a statement released by his office that the decision was made “to facilitate the country’s paradigm shift to low-carbon green growth.” He characterized the policy as a “voluntary, independent, and domestic target for unilateral reduction,” driven by “environmental technology and renewable energy development.”[2]

Principal Policy Instruments

The November recommendation will empower a governmental committee to prepare industryspecific quotas and implement support measures. Near-term reductions will focus on buildings and transportation to give other industry sectors more time to adjust. In addition to these recent measures, Korea’s policies have involved dialogue with industrial organizations, voluntary plans by participating facilities to save energy and reduce CO2 emissions, and some non-regulatory emissions trading. The government has provided financial incentives and technological assistance. Voluntary agreements cover plants that consume more than 2,000 tons of oil equivalent annually.[3] This process has resulted in some performance benchmarking for industries, collaborative research, and participation in the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism.

South Korea recently said it plans to invest about 2% of its GDP annually in environment-related and renewable energy industries over the next five years, for a total of US$84.5 billion. The government said it would try to boost South Korea’s international market share of “green technology” products to 8% by expanding research and development spending and strengthening industries such as those that produce light-emitting diodes, solar batteries and hybrid cars.[4] To meet its pledge of a new, quantitative target, the government has indicated it may use GHG-trading and tax incentives. It has also indicated that financial incentives would increase use of hybrid cars, renewable and nuclear energy,light-emitting diode lighting, and smart grids.[5]

Covered Gases and Sectors

Sectors included in Korea’s “Industrial Organization for UNFCCC Task Force Team” are steel, cement, electricity generation, paper, semi-conductor manufacturing, petrochemicals, oil refining, and automobile manufacturing.

Allocation of GHG reductions to various sectors

Not yet determined.

Regulations or exemptions specific to trade-sensitive sectors

Motor Vehicles: The automobile manufacturing association reached voluntary agreement with the EU to meet CO2 emission standards of 140grams/km by 2008.[6]


caption Figure A-1. Comparison of International Fuel Economy and GHG Standards. Source: Feng An, “Revised Chart for World Standards,” Innovation Center for Energy and Transportation
(iCET) (2009). Available at



caption Figure A-2. Standardized Comparison of Select Vehicle Efficiency Standards Internationally (standards as of mid-2009). Source: Feng An, “Revised Chart for World Standards,” Innovation Center for Energy and Transportation (iCET) (2009). Available at



  1. ^ This section was prepared by Jane A. Leggett, Specialist in Environmental and Energy Policy, Congressional Research Service
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ Mufson, “Asian Nations Could Outpace U.S. in Developing Clean Energy,” The Washington Post,
  5. ^ Various press reports, including
  6. ^


Note: The first version of this article was drawn from  R40936 An Overview of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Control Policies in Various Countries by Jane A. Leggett, Richard K. Lattanzio, Carl Ek, and Larry Parker, Congressional Research Service, November 30, 2009.


Disclaimer: This article is taken wholly from, or contains information that was originally published by, the Congressional Research Service. Topic editors and authors for the Encyclopedia of Earth may have edited its content or added new information. The use of information from the Congressional Research Service should not be construed as support for or endorsement by that organization for any new information added by EoE personnel, or for any editing of the original content.




(2012). Greenhouse Gas Control Policies in South Korea. Retrieved from


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