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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on Dec. 10)

All News 07:06 December 10, 2020

Detailed plans for carbon neutrality
: Time to double down on keeping 'net-zero' promise

The government has unveiled a roadmap for achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. The roadmap, announced Monday after a joint meeting with the ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK), envisions transforming Korea's economic structure to a low-carbon one by creating the appropriate industrial ecosystem and building a carbon-neutral society.

As action plans, the roadmap proposed accelerating the conversion of the country's power sources through a reduction in the reliance on coal, renewing the country's industrial structure heavily dependent on fossil fuels, expanding the supply of ecofriendly vehicles, creating a climate response fund and setting up a presidential committee. In a nutshell, the roadmap is designed to change the country's economic structure to attain the goal of carbon neutrality, the idea of achieving "net-zero" carbon dioxide emissions.

"A transition to a sustainable economy through carbon neutrality is a historic and global trend, which is no longer a choice but a necessity," Deputy Prime Minister and Economy and Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki said in a press conference after the meeting. The roadmap, however, failed to suggest core programs needed to advance carbon neutrality substantially such as detailed plans on how to curtail greenhouse gas emission sources and expand renewable energy. The government also avoided such sensitive issues as the introduction of a carbon tax and how electricity rates will be determined. Given the administration's seemingly lukewarm commitment to carbon neutrality, Hong's remarks sound hollow.

Yet carbon neutrality is an irreversible trend and the current generation's obligation for posterity. As the United States and the European Union are set to begin discussing a carbon border tax, the global economic order will move toward carbon neutrality rapidly. If Korea, a small open economy heavily reliant on trade, fails to keep up with this trend, it might lose its competitiveness in global markets. The government should hurry to create a more concrete carbon neutrality blueprint so that the country's carbon net-zero promise can be kept without fail. All players -- government, businesses and individuals -- should double down on reducing their carbon footprint.

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