South Korea

Critically Insufficient4°C+
World
NDCs with this rating fall well outside of a country’s “fair share” range and are not at all consistent with holding warming to below 2°C let alone with the Paris Agreement’s stronger 1.5°C limit. If all government NDCs were in this range, warming would exceed 4°C. For sectors, the rating indicates that the target is consistent with warming of greater than 4°C if all other sectors were to follow the same approach.
Highly insufficient< 4°C
World
NDCs with this rating fall outside of a country’s “fair share” range and are not at all consistent with holding warming to below 2°C let alone with the Paris Agreement’s stronger 1.5°C limit. If all government NDCs were in this range, warming would reach between 3°C and 4°C. For sectors, the rating indicates that the target is consistent with warming between 3°C and 4°C if all other sectors were to follow the same approach.
Insufficient< 3°C
World
NDCs with this rating are in the least stringent part of a country’s “fair share” range and not consistent with holding warming below 2°C let alone with the Paris Agreement’s stronger 1.5°C limit. If all government NDCs were in this range, warming would reach over 2°C and up to 3°C. For sectors, the rating indicates that the target is consistent with warming over 2°C and up to 3°C if all other sectors were to follow the same approach.
2°C Compatible< 2°C
World
NDCs with this rating are consistent with the 2009 Copenhagen 2°C goal and therefore fall within a country’s “fair share” range, but are not fully consistent with the Paris Agreement long term temperature goal. If all government NDCs were in this range, warming could be held below, but not well below, 2°C and still be too high to be consistent with the Paris Agreement 1.5°C limit. For sectors, the rating indicates that the target is consistent with holding warming below, but not well below, 2°C if all other sectors were to follow the same approach.
1.5°C Paris Agreement Compatible< 1.5°C
World
This rating indicates that a government’s NDCs in the most stringent part of its “fair share” range: it is consistent with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C limit. For sectors, the rating indicates that the target is consistent with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C limit.
Role model<< 1.5°C
World
This rating indicates that a government’s NDC is more ambitious than what is considered a “fair” contribution: it is more than consistent with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C limit. No “role model” rating has been developed for the sectors.

Historical emissions

Historical emissions in South Korea were taken from the latest national inventories published in January 2020 (Greenhouse Gas Inventory & Research Center of Korea, 2020). These data are displayed in SAR GWPs and are updated in AR4 based on detailed data by gas. The 2030 NDC target was calculated based on the accompanying BAU scenario (Republic of Korea, 2015). The target is calculated excluding LULUCF emissions.

NDC and other targets

BAU projections for the 2020 pledge were taken from the Third National Communication (Republic of Korea, 2012) whilst the BAU for NDC is taken directly from the NDC pledge. We no longer consider the 2020 pledge when calculating the global temperature rise associated with the aggregated pledges of all countries. Both targets were defined in GWPs from SAR and therefore updated to AR4 in our assessment by harmonising given data with data on historical emissions.

Current policy projections

Current trend projections are based on the BAU scenario from the 7th Edition of APEC Energy Demand and Supply Outlook (APERC, 2019) and the US EPA non-CO2 emission projections until 2030 (US EPA, 2019). Non-energy related CO2 emissions are assumed to remain constant at the 2014 level. For the upper end of the range we use the APERC BAU scenario directly. Under this scenario the share of renewables in total electricity generation in 2030 reaches 7.6%. There are, however, other analyses that project higher renewable electricity shares (17% by Wood Mackenzie (Wood Mackenzie, 2019) and 14% by the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission (Keramidas et al., 2018)). Therefore, the upper bound emissions projections represent the electricity mix as projected by the APEC Outlook, while the lower bound emissions projections represent an adapted electricity mix in which renewable electricity share reaches 17% by 2030 by replacing coal-fired power generation. The average electricity CO2 emission factors for fossil fuel-fired power generation displaced by renewables in 2030 per fuel type were assumed to be similar to the 2016 levels as reported by IEA (IEA, 2018).

COVID-19 impact

We applied a novel method to estimate the COVID-19-related dip in greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 and the deployment through to 2030. The uncertainty surrounding the severity and length of the pandemic creates a new level of uncertainty for current and future greenhouse gas emissions.

We first update the current policy projections using most recent projections, usually prepared before the pandemic. We then distil the emissions intensity (GHG emissions/GDP) from this pre-pandemic scenario and apply to it most recent GDP projections that take into account the effect of the pandemic. To capture a wide range, we used GDP projections by IMF and OECD for 2020 and 2021 (IMF, 2020; OECD, 2020). For years after 2020, we use the GDP growth until 2030 that was used as a basis for the original pre-pandemic current policy scenario. GDP projections from the South Korean government and the Bank of Korea were not used in the calculations because they only provide 2020 projections and no 2021 projections; their 2020 projections are a little higher than the IMF and OECD projections (-0.2% to +0.1%, compared to -2.5% to -1.2%).

Global Warming Potential values

The CAT uses Global Warming Potential (GWP) values from the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) for all its figures and time series. Assessments completed prior to December 2018 (COP24) used GWP values from the Second Assessment Report (SAR).

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