Does South Korea’s Exporting Success Conflict with its Paris Agreement Goals of Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 37%?


South Korea is one of the most polluted countries in the world - in 2016, Korea had 76 days with bad air quality and only 45 days with good air quality. Medical studies conclude that polluted air can cause serious health problems such as stroke, heart disease, lung cancer and other ailments. Particulate matter floating in the air smaller than 10 micrometers profoundly threatens children and asthmatics and can be easily absorbed into the bloodstream of adults. The Republic of Korea or ROK is a signatory to the Paris Agreement, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions below the current Business As Usual (BAU) emissions 37% by 2030. The ROK Ministry of Environment currently oversees Korea’s pollution monitoring and regulations; however, attaining the Paris Agreement goals may be difficult considering the nature of Korea’s export-oriented economy. The ROK is the 5th largest exporter of goods in the world - the resulting success and trade surplus has significantly increased per capita income and improved standards of living. An atmospheric test using measuring equipment provided by NASA found that half of the air pollution in Korea originates from industry, power generation, buildings and transportation vehicles. The fact that the majority of South Korea’s air pollution comes from within makes proactive solutions possible. This paper will investigate the path forward examining how industrial contributors to air pollution in Korea to work with NGO actors, environmental experts and government officials to achieve the ambitious Paris Agreement goals.

Author Information
Rachel Lee, Yongsan International School of Seoul, South Korea
Douglas Klein, New Jersey City University, United States

Paper Information
Conference: ECSEE2019
Stream: Environmental Sustainability & Environmental Management: Atmosphere and Air

This paper is part of the ECSEE2019 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon