Last Tuesday, the South Korean government announced plans to resume stalled construction on nuclear reactors in support of the government’s recent shift to a pro-nuclear energy policy (Reuters). This change comes with the election of President Yoon Suk-yeol, who made energy policy a key part of his political platform when running for office in April.
On October 28, in an address to the National Assembly, South Korean President Moon Jae-in announced that South Korea will be carbon-neutral by 2050. The announcement comes just two days after Japan’s declaration of the same goal and just over a month following China’s promise to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060 (Financial Times).
Recent social isolation and travel restriction measures imposed by countries including China and Italy have led to a significant decline in air pollution. Lockdown measures affecting 35 million people in China began in January.
On April 24, South Korea announced a $5.87 billion supplemental budget to fight unprecedented air pollution levels and boost exports. The budget includes subsidies for replacing old diesel-powered cars, buying air purifiers, and encouraging renewable energy technologies. It also proposes increasing export credit financing and creating jobs. For the full story, see https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-southkorea-economy-budget/south-korea….
On February 28, South Korea's energy ministry announced plans to suspend operations at four of its older coal-fired power plants from March to June in an effort to reduce air pollution. The ministry also plans to cap electricity output from other plants when air pollution levels are high and expand the use of low-sulfur coal. Coal power accounts for roughly 40% of South Korea's electricity. For the full story, see https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-southkorea-coal/south-korea-plans-tem….
Last week, both South Korea and the European Union noted they would be taking legal action in responses to “dieselgate,” the nickname given to the scandal on Volkswagen vehicles' nitrous oxide emissions. Last year, it was discovered that Volkswagen had intentionally misreported the amount of nitrous oxides that their cars emit outside of the laboratory. South Korea intends to file criminal charges against Volkswagen executives in the South Korean unit for falsely advertising their vehicles' emissions.
India and Canada finalized the terms of their nuclear deal, allowing Canadian firms to sell uranium to India. A 1976 ban on the trade of nuclear materials with India, enacted after the nation used Canadian nuclear technology to build its first atomic bomb in 1974, previously halted the trade of Canada's large uranium resources, but India won an exemption in 2008 from the Nuclear Suppliers Group to trade nuclear supplies and technology despite not signing the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
China will launch an anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigation into European Union solar manufacturing products, the Commerce Ministry said last week. The investigation will determine whether manufacturers are selling materials such as polysilicon, used to make panels, below cost. The investigation will also probe whether manufacturers received illegal subsidies. In September, the EU threatened to impose tariffs on Chinese solar panels after investigating claims by Germany, Italy, and other EU member states that dumping by China had caused prices to fall by as much as 75 percent.
China's state council will likely hold a meeting before the end of June to approve plans for the nuclear industry, according to Xu Yuming, the vice secretary general of the China Nuclear Energy Association. The nation is currently building at least 27 reactors and has 50 more planned, according to the China Nuclear Energy Association.
South Korea became the latest nation to approve a climate trading scheme last Wednesday as lawmakers agreed to cap greenhouse gas emissions. The scheme places a cap on emissions from industry, generators, and even large universities, encouraging a move toward energy efficiency. The measure may lead to savings, as South Korea is the fifth largest importer of oil and the second largest importer of liquefied natural gas. Under the plan, firms can trade emissions permits or buy offsets from U.N. backed energy projects.