South Korea has made clear their intent to become one of the world’s leading warriors against climate change, and they are willing to back up their assertions with cold, hard, cash. In their effort to lower greenhouse gasses by 30 percent by 2020, the government united their political parties to pass a carbon market proposal by 148-3 vote. They expect the market to be in full force as soon as 2015.
In the second half of this year, South Korea will determine an exchange for greenhouse gasses as well as who will obtain 480 free allowances allocated by the government. The trials for the cap-and-trade system will begin some time in 2014. Since being nominated under President Park Geun Hye, environmental minister Yoon Seong Kyu has pledged to reduce emissions, joining California and the EU in allowing emitters to purchase an established number of permits. Australia and seven Chinese provinces are set to follow suit by 2015. South Korea’s decision to implement a carbon market comes after one of the nation’s largest increases in levels of CO2 since 1993 was set in 2010. Demand for steel and electricity drove the figure up by 9.8 percent to 668.8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide.
From 2015 to 2017, South Korea will grant companies their allowances for free. The government is considering the Korea Power Exchange or Korea Exchange as monikers for their new market. As the world begins to use economics and policy to curb the effects of global warming, the United States and other industrialized nations would do well to South Korea as a model. Amazingly, the government was able to rally their political camps to overwhelm the power of the major conglomerates, establishing a system that will not only be good for the planet, but usher in a powerful economic framework.