South Korea’s greenhouse gas emissions declined by 7.3% in 2020

10 Jun 2021

South Korea’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions declined by 7.3% in 2020 to 649 MtCO2eq (i.e. -10.9% compared with the 2018 peak of 729 MtCO2eq). GHG emissions have been driven down by South Korea's energy and industrial sectors (-7.8% and -7.1%, respectively). In the power sector, total emissions decreased by 12.4% due to temporary shutdowns of coal-fired power plants resulting in lower coal-fired power generation and due to an increased renewable power generation. Emissions from the transport sector (included in the energy sector) contracted by 4.1%, owing to reduced travel (COVID-19-related restrictions) and the continuous deployment of low-emission vehicles. Residential emissions grew by only 0.3%, while emissions from business and public sectors fell by 9.9%. In the industrial sector (-7.1%), the reduced activity affected the energy-intensive branches such as chemicals (7.6% drop in GHG emissions), steel (-2.5%) and cement (-8.9%).

Due to the drop in emissions, the South Korean emission trading scheme (ETS) is over-supplied, and the authorities set a temporary price floor for allowances, as the price fell below the government's minimum threshold. However, the average price for allowances increased from KRW29,500/tCO2 (US$25.2/tCO2) in 2019 to KRW30,200/tCO2 (US$25.4/tCO2) in 2020.

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