Page last updated at 08:13 GMT, Tuesday, 17 November 2009

South Korea targets carbon cuts

Apec leaders at the end of the summit
Leaders remain split on specifying targets but South Korea has set its own

South Korea has approved a cut in carbon emissions, saying it wants to set an example for the world's developing countries.

Emissions will be reduced by 4% by 2020 compared to the 2005 level, the South Korean cabinet decided.

South Korea is one of the world's top emitters of the greenhouse gases that are blamed for causing global warming.

The announcement comes ahead of the UN summit in Copenhagen next month to find a successor to the Kyoto Protocol.

"The government made the decision for a shift in our development paradigm and greater benefits to our nation, though there will be short-term difficulties," President Lee Myung-Bak was quoted as telling the cabinet meeting.

Voluntary urge

The country is not required to set targets under the existing United Nations convention on climate change -the Kyoto Protocol.

"South Korea's announcement of its voluntary reduction plan will be a chance to urge the international community to act responsibly, even though there are doubts about the Copenhagen meeting slated for the end of the year," Mr Lee told the meeting.

"It will be a chance to raise the status of our country, as well as our national pride."

In 2005, South Korea released 590 million tons of the greenhouse gases blamed for dangerously warming the globe, an amount estimated to be the world's ninth largest.

If no action is taken to cut emissions, South Korea is expected to produce 813 million tons of greenhouse gases in 2020.

Under the latest target decided by the cabinet, the country aims to cut the 2020 levels to around 569 million tons.

Knowledge Economy Minister Choi Kyung-hwan said the plan could put significant strains on businesses, especially when the country is competing against the world's fast-emerging markets.

Mr Lee said the "aggressive" cuts would put South Korea in a good position in the rapidly growing clean technology sector.

The government said earlier this year it would spend 107tr won ($92.7bn; £55bn) on environment-related industries over the next five years, giving it one of Asia's most ambitious green investment plans.

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