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Transition team seeks to modify carbon neutrality plans, discard nuclear phase-out policy

All News 09:53 April 13, 2022

By Joo Kyung-don

SEOUL, April 13 (Yonhap) -- The transition team's push to modify carbon neutrality plans of the current Moon Jae-in government will likely include reversal of its nuclear phase-out policy and changes in energy mix, officials said Wednesday.

The transition committee called Tuesday for overhauling the country's carbon neutrality scheme, claiming that policies from the Moon administration actually increased greenhouse gas emissions and sticking to its plans will prompt electricity rate hikes and even lower the country's gross domestic product (GDP).

"Carbon neutrality, which the country already promised to the international community, is a path for us to take," Won Hee-ryong, the transition team's planning chief, said. "But our climate-energy team's tentative conclusion is that the Yoon administration needs to set new plans that are honest, realistic and responsible regarding carbon neutrality."

Won Hee-ryong (L), the transition team's planning chief and land minister nominee, speaks at a press briefing at the presidential transition committee's office in Seoul on April 12, 2022. (Pool photo) (Yonhap)

Last year, the government announced it will reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent from the 2018 levels by 2030, sharply raising its previous goal of 26.3 percent, and reach carbon neutrality by 2050.

To achieve them, the Moon administration said it plans to expand renewable energy use and make environment-friendly energy sources be the center of the country's energy mix.

The transition team said it may not be right to change the country's carbon neutrality target as it was declared to the world, but the goal also cannot be considered "immutable" as there can be many variables and circumstances toward it, hinting that the Yoon government may take a different approach to achieve carbon neutrality.

"The (Moon) government implemented energy policies based on the principle of nuclear phase-out," said Kim Sang-hyup, who heads the climate-energy team under the transition committee. "The incoming administration will break this taboo of nuclear phase-out and put every possible technology for carbon neutrality on the table to pursue practical, responsible policies."

During campaigning, Yoon stressed multiple times that he will scrap the Moon administration's nuclear phase-out scheme and overhaul plans for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, or nationally determined contribution (NDC).

This undated photo by Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power shows the Wolsong nuclear power plant in Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang Province. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

Observers said Yoon is expected to first push for resuming construction of nuclear power plants and extending operations of existing nuclear reactors.

During his visit last month to Uljin, about 330 kilometers southeast of Seoul, Yoon said he will swiftly resume construction of two nuclear reactors in Uljin -- Shin-Hanul No. 3 and No. 4 -- for the region's economy.

Industry watchers also expect the portion of renewable energy in the country's energy mix to likely be reduced under the Yoon government. The transition team earlier claimed it is inevitable to see an electricity price hike of 4-6 percent per year by 2050 if the Moon administration's target of expanding the renewable energy portion to 70 percent by 2050 is kept.

With the overhaul of the country's carbon neutrality scheme in mind, the transition team said it will present a report to Yoon later this month, which will contain policies calling for balance between renewable energy and nuclear power energy, the upgrade of green energy research and strengthening international cooperation and alliances in climate and energy fields.

kdon@yna.co.kr
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