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South Korea’s Emission Trading Scheme Awaits Final Parliamentary Vote

Seoul smog

South Korea will most likely become the third Asia-Pacific country to impose an emissions trading scheme for its largest polluters. South Korean lawmakers made the decision despite mounting opposition from industry, who argued that pricing pollution would put manufacturers at a competitive disadvantage in the global marketplace.

New Zealand has had an emissions trading program in place since 2009 and Australia will start its program in 2015.

Unlike Australia, however, policymakers from all sides of the political spectrum seemed to agree that South Korea needed to cap its carbon emissions. Debate within the country therefore revolved around exactly how to make emission cuts of 30 percent by 2020.

In its current state, the bill will give 95 percent of carbon permits away for free in the first two phases, spanning 2015-2017 and 2018-2020. In total, the South Korea’s carbon emission trading scheme would target 60 percent of all emissions within the country.

Although South Korea is only the eighth largest emitter of greenhouse gas emissions, opposition party member Kim Jae Yun stated that “the legislation is the first step toward becoming an advanced country. We can resolve what companies are concerned with.”

But South Korea’s manufacturing sector does not see the new bill as progress. They claim that if the proposed law goes ahead, Korean manufacturers will be unable to compete with manufacturers from Japan and China, countries where similar legislation has not been introduced.

Although the bill has passed its biggest hurdle, it still awaits approval following a plenary stage on February 16th.

Do you think that the successful passage of an emission trading scheme in South Korea will encourage other Pacific countries to impose an emission trading scheme of their own?

Image CC licensed by Craig Nagy: Seoul, South Korea

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