South Korean President Moon Jae-in announced on Wednesday that the government will reach net zero emissions by 2050, following a similar announcement from Japan and China.
According to the World Bank, in 2019, Korea ranked as the world's 12th largest economy. As of 2019, it is also the world's seventh largest emitter.
East Asia's three largest emitters are accountable for more than 30 per cent of the total global emissions.
It's the first time that the Korean government officially pledged to go carbon neutral by 2050.
Previously, the ruling Democratic Party included it in their general election platform last April and lawmakers reached a resolution for it last week, all of which had failed to be developed into a policy, though.
The announcement comes after mounting criticism on the country's lack of climate action, especially as it is one of the three largest coal financiers in the world.
Also, it follows shifts by domestic institutions away from coal. Over the past month KB Financial Group, Samsung C&T and KEPCO have all announced exits from thermal coal.
Reacting to the announcement, Asia Investor Group in Climate Change (AIGCC) Executive Director, Rebecca Mikula-Wright, said: "Formal confirmation from President Moon that South Korea is committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2050 will be welcomed by investors who increasingly want to deploy private capital into markets that are reducing climate risk and enhancing opportunities for clean technology deployment.
"Vast numbers of institutional investors support the goals of the Paris Agreement and achieving net zero emissions by 2050. Earlier this year, founding global partners of the Investor Agenda wrote to President Moon urging his government to formalise enhanced climate commitments and seize the investment and job opportunities that will be created by the transition to net zero emissions.
"The three largest economies in East Asia now have clear commitments to net zero emissions by or near mid-century. This is a powerful market signal that should help encourage other Asian nations to follow suit and send a strong message to carbon-intensive trade partners further afield that the region is moving to decarbonise."
Korean Member of Parliament Soyoung Lee of the Democratic party said, "Korea's 2050 net-zero announcement will encourage other countries which are still deliberating over a 2050 target year, especially considering that Korea is still heavily reliant on the manufacturing industry and other high-carbon industries.
"Now our work is to establish a concrete roadmap to achieve carbon neutrality and to strengthen a 2030 target (NDC) year. Although the target year is still far off in the future, the makeup of buildings and infrastructure to be built in the future needs to be changed immediately. We will develop the necessary laws and policies to facilitate this huge societal transition."
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