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South Korea approves bill mandating carbon neutrality by 2050

South Korea has taken steps to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, with its parliament approving a bill on greenhouse gas emissions and the government expanding budgets for carbon reduction projects, government officials said Sept 2.

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The National Assembly passed a bill, named the "climate crisis response" act, which mandates over a 35% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared with the 2018 level. The 35% reduction target is 9 percentage points higher than what the country had previously pledged.

"The raised target over 35% by 2030 shows South Korea's firm commitment to reach net-zero emissions by 2050," the Ministry of Environment said in a statement, noting this is part of a mid-term goal of the nationally determined contributions, a non-binding national gas emission reduction pledge.

The government has also earmarked Won 12 trillion ($10.3 billion) as the budget to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the 2022 state budget plan, which would be submitted to the National Assembly for approval.

Under the budget plan, the government will provide incentives for hydrogen-powered and battery-based electric vehicles, and charging stations for them across the country. The government also offers financial supports for reducing coal-fired power plants and internal combustion engines vehicles.

Last month, the government unveiled three scenarios to achieve the goal of carbon neutrality by 2050, focusing on restricting the consumption of coal and LNG for power generation.

"The government is currently gathering feedback from parties interested including industries and the public so as to finalize its roadmap in October on the basis of the three scenarios," said an official at the Presidential Committee on Carbon Neutrality.

In October last year, President Moon declared that South Korea will achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 while pushing for a "hydrogen society" which uses hydrogen as a major energy source for transportation and power generation in the country.