South Korea's Moon vows to end new funding for overseas coal projects

By Reuters   April 22, 2021 | 06:28 pm PT
South Korea's Moon vows to end new funding for overseas coal projects
Part of Vung Ang 1 Thermal Power Plant in Vietnam's central province of Ha Tinh. A South Korean firm last year had confirmed to invest in the Vung Ang 2 plant near the first plant. Photo by Vietnam News Agency.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in announced on Thursday his country would end all new financing for coal projects in places such as Indonesia and Vietnam.

He said South Korea would soon set a more ambitious schedule for slashing carbon emissions.

Moon made the promises during a video address to a two-day virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden.

The announcement makes official parts of a "Green New Deal" proposed by Moon’s ruling party last year, which set ambitious goals of net-zero emissions by 2050, an end to funding of overseas coal plants and introduction of a carbon tax.

"To become carbon neutral, it is imperative for the world to scale down coal-fired power plants," Moon said, while noting that developing countries that would struggle due to their dependence on coal "should be given due consideration and access to proper support."

Under Moon, South Korea stopped issuing permits for new domestic coal-fired power plants, but had faced criticism from environmental activists over continued financing of coal plants in places such as Indonesia and Vietnam.

South Korea has already set a target of reducing emissions by 24.4 percent from the 2017 level by 2030 as part of the country’s commitment under the Paris Agreement, known as a nationally determined contribution (NDC).

The country plans to "additionally raise" the NDC and report it to the United Nations later this year, Moon said, without specifying the new number.

Moon has portrayed his Green New Deal, which includes billions of dollars in investment in things such as electric vehicles and hydrogen cars, smart grids to manage electricity use more efficiently and promoting remote medical services, as a way to create jobs and help the economy recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

"With a view to promoting investment in renewable energy facilities, both in and outside Korea, we will actively seek to scale up green finance," he said.

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