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Businesses urge gov't to cut greenhouse gas emission goal

South Korean businesses urged the government Tuesday to lower its reduction target of greenhouse gas emissions, saying the current goal will weaken their competitiveness.

The government is in the process of finalizing its long-term commitments to climate change that will require Seoul to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 14 percent from its business-as-usual level by 2030.

"Local firms are already struggling with the recent fluctuations in currency exchange rates and a slump in the global economy," said the Federation of Korean Industries together with some 30 business organizations and 38 energy-related companies in a joint statement.

"Tougher regulations on greenhouse gas emissions at a time like this could lead to decreased local production, relocation of manufacturing plants to overseas, as well as a delay in investments."

The government has offered four options to choose from via public debates and surveys, ranging from the minimum 14.7 percent to the maximum 31.3 percent reduction in emissions from the country's BAU level by 2030.

"The 2030 target should be set at an achievable level after thorough inspection of its applicability and its effects on the economy, and only then will the deal be a win-win for businesses, the public and the government," said Park Chan-ho, an executive director at FKI. 

Without any efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy forecast the country's overall emissions will grow by an annual average of 1.3 percent over the next 15 years to reach 850.6 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalents.

A report on South Korea's voluntary mitigation commitments will be submitted to the United Nations at the end of this month, according to the ministry.

The target may become legally binding once the intergovernmental organization successfully launches the envisioned international protocol on climate change. (Yonhap)

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