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S Korea to tackle pollution by cutting coal, diesel use, switching to LNG

South Korea plans to replace coal-fired power plants under construction with LNG-based power turbines in a bid to cut pollution, the government said in a statement Tuesday.

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It would also seek to scrap some 2.2 million diesel vehicles by May 2022, before President Moon Jae-In's term ends. People would be offered incentives to switch to less polluting LPG-powered cars, according to the statement issued jointly by the industry, energy, environmental, transport and finance ministries.

The government was eyeing a 30% fall in fine dust emissions from current levels by 2022, the statement said.

Reducing fine dust pollutants has become a major issue amid increasing health concerns. Coal and diesel are seen as a contributor to the pollution.

South Korea has some 60 coal-fired power plants and dozens more are under construction.

"Under the measures, the government will push to transform four coal-fired power plants, which are less than 10% constructed, into LNG-fired power turbines," the statement said.

Three older coal-fired power plants run by state-owned generators were shut in July this year. South Korea plans to close seven more coal-fired power plants that are 30 years or older by early 2022.

Some 2.9 million diesel-engine vehicles made in 2005 or earlier were responsible for 57% of fine dust emissions produced by the country's 9.3 million diesel cars, the statement said, adding that the older vehicles needed to be scrapped.

"Diesel cars will be replaced by vehicles powered by less polluting LPG or LNG, and by electric vehicles," it said.

"In order to meet a global cap of 0.5% sulfur emissions in 2020 for vessel fuels, the government will provide support to switch from fuel oil to LNG," it added.

The government plans to spend a total of Won 7.2 trillion ($6.4 billion) by 2022 to bring down fine dust emissions.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said that these anti-pollution measures would boost demand of LNG for electricity generation and transportation, while reducing diesel consumption.

"More detailed plans for specific targets and fuel demand prospects will come later this year," a ministry official said.

--Charles Lee,
--Edited by E Shailaja Nair,