Chungche0ngnam-do’s coal-phase-out policy draws worldwide attention
CHUNGCHEONGNAM-DO: Chungcheongnam-do province, in the southwest of the Korean Peninsula, will achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 through close cooperation with local residents, the provincial council, and civic organizations, Governor Yang Seung-jo told an international summit of leaders from national governments, regions and cities, banks and investors, energy majors and grid operators, academia and NGO, youth and health groups.
Governor Yang presented the province’s proactive coal-phase-out policy, noting that Chungcheongnam-do hosts half of the 60 domestic coal-fired power plants, transmits over 60% of electricity generated by these plants to other provinces, and accounts for 22% of the greenhouse gas emissions by Korea.
He was speaking at a virtual global summit of Powering Past Coal Alliance (PPCA), the world’s leading initiative to rapidly phase out traditional coal-fired electricity, to boost international commitment and cooperation to shift away from coal power generation ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November 2021.
The Powering Past Coal Global Summit 2021 was this year’s largest global gathering on coal power phase-out, bringing together leaders from national governments, regions and cities, banks and investors, energy majors and grid operators, academia and NGO, youth and health groups to share their experiences and best practices on coal phase-out.
The summit was an opportunity for Chungcheongnam-do’s carbon neutrality policy to draw worldwide attention thanks to Governor Yang Seung-jo, invited to the summit as a representative of Asian local governments, who introduced the province’s coal phase-out policy.
The summit provided an opportunity for those countries where coal phase-out represents a challenge to join expert discussion on ways in which they could consider a trajectory away from coal.
Governor Yang attended the session “Opportunities of the Race to Net-Zero – Perspectives from the EU and Asia” as a panelist representing Asia on March 4
That was one of the PPCA Summit sessions held to share plans and experiences for successfully achieving intermediary coal closure targets.
The discussion, held through an online connection between Chungcheongnam-do, Copenhagen, New York, and Amsterdam, featured Governor Yang, Carola van Rijnsoever, the Ambassador for Sustainable Development and the Arctic Ambassador at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Netherlands, Hendrik Gordenker, Director, JERA, Japan’s largest utility company, and Ulrik Stridbæk, Head of Regulatory Affairs of Ørsted, the largest utility company of Denmark.
The session was presided over by Dan Jørgensen, the Minister of Climate and Energy and Public Utilities of Denmark, and Antha Williams, leader of the environment program at Bloomberg Philanthropies.
The discussion began with a keynote address by Kadri Simson, EU Commissioner for Energy, followed by a panel discussion where four panelists, including Governor Yang, fielded questions.
Chungcheongnam-do’s coal phase-out energy transition policy drew keen attention from the participants as Governor Yang shared his thoughts on the tasks to completely phase out coal, find solutions, and build partnerships.
Governor Yang listed the tasks to attain the province’s coal phaseout goals: (i) employment decline and job conversion of workers; (ii) economic recession due to a crisis in a core regional industry; and (iii) the emergence of the necessity for building eco-friendly power plants that replace coal-fired power plants.
Among these tasks, Yang said that job issues could be addressed by promoting a large-scale renewable energy industry, attracting public institutions, establishing a future industry development plan for job conversion, fostering start-ups, and launching job succession programs.
As for the economic recession, he said that he would propose that the government designate the region as a “special area for industrial crisis response” and create new regional economic development sources by establishing an energy transition fund.
Concerning establishing a cooperative system with utility companies and the national government to attain the coal phase-out goals, he explained that Chungcheongnam-do has been working towards a carbon neutrality policy and has maintained close collaboration with the government by proposing projects.
The governor stressed that the province declared its carbon neutrality goal one year ahead of the national government and proposed a Green New Deal with proactive efforts, producing legislative proposals, such as Special Acts on the Green New Deal for a Just Transition toward a Decarbonized Society, and Acts for the Selection of Financial Institutions for Local Governments.
Yang Seung-jo, 62 and father of two, has been Governor since July 2018. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Law at Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU) and a Master’s Degree in Judicial Affairs at the Policy and Management College of Dankook University.
He was lawyer and a four-time lawmaker in Dongnam-gu, Cheonan City, from the Minjoo Party of Korea, serving in the 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th terms from 2004 to 2018.
He served as Chairs of the Sub-Committees of the Minjoo Party of Korea and the National Assembly.