As time goes by, the climate crisis is getting worse. Each country involved in the Paris Agreement has set up and implemented a plan to reduce greenhouse activity and achieve carbon neutrality. Can we achieve carbon neutrality by 2050? ....... Ed
Have you ever heard of carbon neutrality? People often misunderstand when they hear only the term, ‘Carbon Neutral.’ Actually, we have no choice but to use carbon indispensable. Carbon neutrality is not exactly carbon-free; it is to make the total net emissions zero in the atmosphere by eliminating carbon dioxide emitted from industries.
Global warming is causing abnormal climate conditions around the world, and people are worried. After the Rio Environment Conference in 1992, the Kyoto Protocol in 2005, and the Paris Climate Change Convention in 2015, world leaders agreed that the maximum increase should be limited to less than 2°C by 2100. However, at the 2018 Songdo IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) General Assembly, it was predicted that maintaining the temperature increase at 2℃ could be risky. Therefore, participating countries declared carbon neutrality based on the point that the Earth’s living environment would be sustained when the temperature rise is limited to 1.5°C by 2050.
In Korea, President Moon Jae-in announced the ‘Vision of Carbon Neutral’ in 2020. He added that although it would be difficult, we could overcome challenges through outstanding low-carbon technologies, like batteries, hydrogen expertise, and digital technologies. Therefore, in order to move forward with the transition to a low-carbon industrial structure, our government must first use electricity and hydrogen in all sectors. Second, improve energy efficiency by linking digital technology. Third, develop a de-carbon future technology. Fourth, introduce a circular economic system that maximizes recycling and reuse. Fifth, strengthen nature’s carbon absorption function. These five measures have been proposed so far.
1. Expansion of Use of Electricity and Hydrogen
The government has decided to convert its main source of energy, which used to be concentrated on fossil fuels, to renewable energy, such as electricity and hydrogen. To do so, it will push for the establishment of a ‘licensing integration organization’ that supports the entire process of developing renewable energy. This is to compensate for the problem in irregular power supply, a disadvantage of renewable energy. Thus, it will be possible to activate self-consumption by utilizing auxiliary power sources, such as ESS (Energy Storage System) and hydrogen, at the same time, and spreading decentralized energy systems. In January last year, the Ministry of Environment announced a roadmap that could revitalize the hydrogen economy, which included the creation of a hydrogen ecosystem and the broad use of hydrogen-electric vehicles. The president expressed the government’s commitment to revitalize the hydrogen economy by introducing Hyundai Motor’s hydrogen car, ‘Nexo.’
2. Increase Energy Efficiency in Conjunction with Digital Technology
Securing next-generation energy efficiency improvement technologies, including energy digitalization based on AI (Artificial Intelligence) and the IOT (Internet of Things), which are key technologies in the fourth industry, is essential. Based on this approach, development by using various sensor technologies will be possible. Moreover, the integrated operation of demand forecasting and distributed energy resources can provide an optimal solution to improve energy efficiency. However, we are still looking for technology within the scope of consultation. We must overcome these limitations and enhance energy production, consumption, and system operational efficiency. The government said it would spare no support to achieve energy technology development.
3. Development and Commercialization of De-carbon Future Technology
Typical de-carbon future technologies include CCS (Carbon Capture and Storage) and CCU (Carbon Capture and Utilization) that extract carbon dioxide generated from greenhouse gas sources before releasing it into the air, and converting it into a useful material. The government announced that it will invest 8.6 billion won in demonstrating the integration of large-scale CCS and establishing a base for the commercialization of CCU as a new project toward carbon neutrality this year. Furthermore, the hydrogen-reducing steel process, which uses hydrogen as a reducing agent, instead of greenhouse gases, will produce no carbon dioxide at all. It is currently being actively developed by domestic and foreign companies.
4. Promote Sustainable Industry Innovation with a Circular Economy
A circular economy system can be transformed into people’s small actions and government policies. For example, recycling and reuse can be part of our daily lives. Korea has reduced waste emission in 1995 through the volume-rate garbage disposal and garbage separation system. In particular, transparent PET bottles have been discharged since last year because they are more valuable than any other recyclable stuff used in reuse materials for clothing or high-quality materials. However, when they contain any foreign substances, they can only be recycled by washing and removing them. Also, the label of the product must be taken out. Furthermore, the government plans to revise the Resource Recycling Act, such as limiting the thickness of delivery vessels and expanding the regulations on the use of plastic bags, to control the increase in disposable waste.
5 Strengthen Nature’s Carbon Absorption Function
Finally, the government has established the self-purification of natural or artificial ecosystems as a carbon and greenhouse gas reduction strategy. Mudflats have excellent carbon absorption. For example, the value of ‘blue carbon’ held by mudflats and coastal creatures in Chungcheongnam-do Province amounts to 1.5 billion won a year. Blue carbon is a type of carbon absorbed by marine ecosystems, including seaweeds, shellfish, salt plants, and sediments that inhabit coastal areas. Therefore, the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries will manage marine ecological resources, such as rivers and mudflats, to absorb carbon. Moreover, the government will push for a project that can create a small ecosystem through the restoration of damaged areas in the city, and supervise the selfpurification of the artificial ecosystem by conducting ecological restoration projects around the dam basin.
As such, the government is expected to introduce efforts to achieve carbon neutrality in different directions, and to cope with the climate crisis. Since carbon neutrality 2050 is not an easy task, individual efforts are also needed. If the government, businesses, and people join forces, they will surely be able to leap into becoming a carbon neutral leading country. Try to reduce the use of disposable plastic as much as possible, and get into the habit of walking for a short distance. It is also important to consistently consume certified low-carbon products by achieving the set reduction target based on greenhouse gas emissions. Why don’t Soongsilians try to maintain proper indoor temperatures, cut off unused power, and use highefficiency products to reduce greenhouse gas use in their daily lives?
Oh Joo-eun (Web Editor)
Kang Seung-wan (ST Cub-Reporter)