South Korea Success Project

South Korea

In response to the Paris Agreement at which South Korea (hereafter Korea) pledged its significant reduction of the greenhouse gas emission (37% reduction from the business-as-usual (BAU, 850.6 MtCO2eq) level by 2030 across all economic sectors), the greenhouse gas emission reduction program has been implemented.
According to the Korea Energy Management Corporation (KEMC), Korea developed its original greenhouse gas emission reduction program, called Korea Voluntary Emission Reduction (KVER).
Under KVER the government subsidizes the administrative costs of voluntary greenhouse gas reduction activities by small and medium size enterprises (SMEs). KVER tracks and and manages the activities of companies that offer to reduce their energy and greenhouse gas emissions.

As a result of KVER, the Korean economy successfully experienced the withdrawal of unused thermal energy, conversion of fuel, development of renewable energy, installation of energy-savings facilities, and improvements in those facilities. KVER aided companies in withdrawing unused thermal energy (waste heat or steam) that is generated in the industrial facilities and/or utility facilities and helped this energy to be reused as an energy source.

KVER also helped SMEs convert to low-carbon fuels. By installing facilities with high energy efficient equipment, firms were able to significantly reduce their energy use and related greenhouse gas emissions. For example, Samchully Gas achieved emissions of 615 tCO2 by reducing greenhouse gas emissions through one year of fuel conversion.

The development of this unique greenhouse gas reduction program can be regarded as one good example to show that Korea is trying to stay on track with its emissions reductions pledge to the Paris Agreement. In June 2011 South Korea helped Thailand adapt the KVER demonstrating its replicability. However, there may be some caveats in that there seems to be relatively low incentive for businesses to participate in this program. The initial cost of altering their energy sources and the lack of energy sources in Korea might be potential impediments for this program to be expanded throughout the whole market. The Korean government stopped providing incentives at the end of 2016.