Updated: September 10, 2021 09:19 AM GMT
People take a break around the Cheonggyecheon Stream to avoid the heat on July 21 in Seoul, South Korea. The world is getting hotter because of climate change, say scientists. (Photo: AFP)
Catholic bishops in South Korea have called on the government to effectively enact its carbon neutrality law and urged other countries to follow suit as a response to the global climate crisis.
“We urge the enactment of a law that can properly respond to the climate crisis,” Bishop Park Hyun-dong, president of the Korean bishops’ committee for ecology and environment, said in a statement, reports the Catholic Times of Korea.
The Benedictine prelate noted that though South Korea passed its carbon neutrality act recently, its implementation might be delayed due to other policies that would make the act meaningless.
South Korea became the 14th nation to legislate for carbon neutrality when its National Assembly passed the related bill on Aug. 29, reported the Korean Herald. Among the other nations in the fold are Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Spain, Sweden and the UK.
The act was approved on a 109-42 vote by lawmakers. It will become law after President Moon Jae-in, the second Catholic president of the country, signs it off.
The law requires the government to reduce greenhouse gas (carbon) emissions by 35 percent or more from 2018 levels. It also says “the government has a national vision to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 and to promote harmonious development of the environment and economy.”
The enactment of the carbon neutrality act lays the foundation for Korea’s carbon neutral policy for the next 30 years
Once in place, the law warrants South Korea to reduce carbon emissions by at least 472.9 million metric tons by 2030, down from 727.6 million tons in 2018.
Carbon neutrality refers to achieving net zero carbon dioxide — the balance between carbon emissions and absorbing carbon emissions in carbon sinks. Simply put, it means eliminating all carbon emissions. Carbon sinks are systems that absorb more carbon than they emit, such as forests, soil and oceans, according to Plan A, a global non-profit organization promoting carbon neutrality.
Carbon neutrality gained momentum following the 2015 Paris Agreement spearheaded by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Following years of scientific assessments, the IPCC announced that the world must achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 to limit global warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
The UN says at the current pace the world is on track for a 2C annual rise in temperatures.
South Korea’s Environment Minister Han Jeoung-ae said the law had laid the foundation for the nation’s carbon neutral policy as well as climate change.
“The enactment of the carbon neutrality act lays the foundation for Korea’s carbon neutral policy for the next 30 years,” Han said, adding that it will serve as the basis for practical policies such as climate change impact assessments, a climate response fund and a greenhouse gas reduction cognitive budget system.
Bishop Park, however, warned against any policy that might hinder responses to climate change.
“It is not enough to prevent a climate disaster, so we call for a complete halt in enacting laws that could delay the response to the global climate crisis,” the prelate said.“I ask the government to establish and implement relevant policies while keeping pace with the international community to overcome the climate crisis by setting effective goals and listening to the voices of various members of society for the socially disadvantaged and future generations. ”