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S. Korea unveils steps to boost emissions trading

All Headlines 10:30 April 05, 2017

SEJONG, April 5 (Yonhap) -- The South Korean government on Wednesday unveiled a set of measures to encourage the trading of carbon emissions rights here, as lackluster trading leads to a hike in prices.

The country opened a greenhouse gas emissions trading system (ETS) in 2015, and some 600 local companies have been given their own Korean allowance units (KAUs) to buy extra emissions rights when they surpass their own quotas.

It is part of its long-term program to curb greenhouse gas emissions by 37 percent from 2030 business-as-usual (BAU) levels, up from an earlier reduction plan of 30 percent by 2020, in accordance with the Paris Agreement aimed at tackling climate change.

Some 540 million tons of KAUs were allocated every year for the 2015-2017 period. As the ETS program is set every three years, the next term begins in 2018.

The South Korean government has been trying to increase the supply of emissions rights in the market as rising demand for KAUs has pushed up the price in recent months.

The trading price of emissions rights per tonne soared to 26,500 won (US$23.6) on Feb. 7, from 19,300 won tallied two months earlier, while monthly turnovers sank to 384,000 tons in January, compared with an average 992,000 tons in 2016.

S. Korea unveils steps to boost emissions trading - 1

The Ministry of Strategy and Finance attributed the price hike to the companies who carry over their extra emissions rights to the next year in a bid to prevent a possible shortage during the second term.

In 2015, 283 corporate players had spare rights of 15.5 million tons, but they carried 88 percent of them forward to the next year instead of selling them in the market.

Consequently, companies that need to buy emissions rights from the market have to borrow the rights from their own allocation account set for the next year.

The government came up with new measures to deal with the supply shortage of emission rights and to boost the trading market through encouraging companies to sell more extra emission rights.

Under the plans endorsed by the Cabinet, the government will give less KAU allocations next year to those who have massive carryovers and lower the ceiling for borrowings from their next-year accounts to 15 percent from the current 20 percent.

Also, the finance ministry said starting in 2018, the government will allow South Korean companies to trade their overseas emissions rights that they acquired from greenhouse gas reduction businesses abroad.

Various kinds of trading forms, including swap dealings of emission rights and derivatives such as options and futures, will be also introduced in the coming years, according to the ministry.

"A supply shortage brought about the recent price hike in the emissions rights," the ministry said. "The government has to stabilize the market as the companies must participate in the trading market and comply with the ETS."

brk@yna.co.kr
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