South Korea ends aid for coal plants overseas

·1 min read
South Korean President Moon Jae-in, seen speaking in March 2021, has vowed to stop funding coal-powered plants overseas

South Korea will stop funding coal-powered plants overseas, President Moon Jae-in told a US-led summit Thursday, as he vowed a larger role in fighting climate change.

The progressive president said he was expanding a decision at home to phase out coal, the dirtiest form of energy.

"Korea will end our public financing for overseas, coal-fired power plants," Moon told the summit convened by President Joe Biden.

"It is imperative for the world to slow down coal-fired power plants, although developing countries that will struggle due to the heavy dependence on coal should be given due consideration and proper support," he said.

Moon said that Asia's fourth largest economy was committed to going carbon neutral by 2050 and would "aim to enhance" its goals by 2030.

The United States, Japan and Canada all sharply raised ambitions during Biden's summit.

Environmentalists widely expect that South Korea will announce actions when it hosts its own gathering on climate next month.

South Korea, which in 2010 joined the club of donor nations under the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, has generously funded coal plants in Asia including in Vietnam, Indonesia and Bangladesh.

A Greenpeace study said that South Korea pumped around $5.7 billion into overseas coal plants between January 2013 and August 2019.

China and Japan are the other major funders of coal projects outside their borders.

Helen Mountford, vice president for climate and economics at the World Resources Institute, hailed the South Korean decision as "historic" in turning the tide against coal.

"The announcement sends a strong signal that the era of dirty fossil fuels is coming to a close," she said.

sct/dw