In July 2020, Seoul, the capital of the Republic of Korea, responded to the country’s commitment to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 by developing an integrated policy approach focused on five key areas: buildings, mobility, forestry, clean energy and waste management. Seoul’s vision is to be a sustainable city where “human, nature and future co-exist”.

The Republic of Korea’s policy approach towards climate neutrality mirrors the EU’s Green Deal to achieve net-zero emissions and respond to climate change. By 2025, the Korean government will invest around USD 37 billion in Green New Deal policies and a further USD 7 billion in carbon-cutting measures. Seoul has put forward two intermediate goals ahead of the 2050 climate-neutrality goal: to achieve 40% emission reduction by 2030 and 70% emission reduction by 2040 (compared to 2005 levels).

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Since 2012, Seoul has adopted policies to reduce its dependency on nuclear energy through two phases of the One Less Nuclear Power Plant Project. In 2017, Solar City Seoul was launched with the goal of adding 1 GW-peak of solar power capacity by supplying PV panels to 1 million households by 2022. The programme, which has a budget of around USD 1.46 billion (funded mostly by public investment), aims to reduce CO2 emissions by 544,000 tonnes annually and to add 4,500 new jobs by 2022. The programme exceeded its intermediate goal by installing a total of 357.1 MW of solar panels for 285,000 households by 2019.

One of the challenges facing the Solar City Seoul programme is securing enough space at buildings and public facilities to install solar panels. As part of the green energy initiative of the Seoul 2050 climate neutrality plan, Seoul is identifying new installation sites (including urban infrastructure); increasing the standards for solar generation in zero-energy buildings; providing subsidies for building-integrated PV; extending the feed-in tariff system to on-site solar power generators and supporting new solar PV technology.

Source: See endnote 137 in the Urban Policy Landscape chapter.