South Korea Shuns Coal-Power Financing Amid Rising U.S. Pressure

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South Korea will halt state-backed financing of coal-fired power plants overseas and also plans to strengthen its emissions reduction commitment under the Paris agreement.

President Moon Jae-in made the announcement at a virtual climate summit hosted by U.S. President Joe Biden. The White House is said to have asked South Korea to withdraw from recent coal projects, but the Asian nation will only halt funding for future plants abroad. The country also plans to increase its current target to reduce emissions by 24.4% by 2030 from 2017 levels, in the second half of the year.

South Korea Shuns Coal-Power Financing Amid Rising U.S. Pressure

“While there’s a global need to reduce the number of coal-fired power plants for the goal of carbon neutrality, the challenges facing developing countries that rely on coal should be taken into account, and appropriate measures should be taken,” Moon said in his address to the conference on Thursday. “South Korea plans to support the expansion of green finance that invests in renewable energy facilities both at home and abroad.”

The Biden administration is seeking to invigorate the global fight against climate change and restore U.S. credibility on the issue at the virtual summit, which dozens of foreign leaders, corporate executives, union heads are attending.

Global investors have been increasingly focused on South Korea’s financing of foreign coal developments, particularly after the country pledged to become carbon-neutral by 2050 and unveiled a $35 billion plan to boost low-carbon power sources and foster green industries domestically.

State-owned Korea Electric Power Corp., or Kepco, approved plans last year to invest in Vietnam’s Vung Ang 2 coal plant and Indonesia’s Jawa 9 & 10 facilities, though has since signaled it won’t fund new ventures. Private companies including Samsung C&T Corp. have also vowed not to join new overseas coal projects after completing developments.

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