The preliminary draft of the government’s carbon neutrality roadmap is jaw-dropping. The government aims to boost solar and wind power 50 times compared to 2018 levels and reduce the number of nuclear power plants from the present 24 to just nine, slashing the proportion of nuclear power generation from 29 percent to seven percent. It hopes to make up for any shortfall by importing electricity from China and Russia. By doing that, it seeks to reduce carbon emissions by 99 percent from 727 million tons in 2018 to 7.5 million tons by 2050.
There was a solar and wind-power craze after President Moon Jae-in took office in 2017. Forests were razed to set up solar panels, resulting in landslides during monsoon season. Reservoirs and even farmland were destroyed while installing them. Now the government intends to set them up on 7.5 percent of South Korean land.
Carbon neutrality is a universal goal that must be achieved. More efficient methods of power generation are needed, but the country’s national interest cannot be thrown overboard. South Korea does not have vast deserts like the U.S. or Australia and cannot generate solar power all year round. The U.S. increased solar power facilities by 19GW last year, so how can South Korea, whose land mass is less than 1/100 of the U.S.’, boost them by 16GW a year. President Moon Jae-in, who has less than a year left in office, is spewing out pipe dreams
The problem began when he announced his futile carbon neutrality goal in October last year without careful consideration. Government officials said the most challenging goal was to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 75 percent, but Moon went even further and announced a 100-percent reduction target. As for importing power from China and Russia, how will they generate it, and how will the cables cross North Korea?
It is nonsense to rule out nuclear energy while pursuing carbon-neutral goals. The government only launched a carbon-neutrality taskforce last month, and none of its 77 members are experts in nuclear energy. Moon wants to ignore the country’s world-class nuclear power technology and instead import solar and wind-power equipment to achieve carbon neutrality. Even his own officials must know that is unrealistic, but they are too scared to say anything. South Korea has already been labeled a “climate villain” because it failed to live up to previous promises, but here is Moon setting unrealistic targets once again. After him, the deluge.
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