Opposition boycotts threaten South Korean polluter pay laws

December 20, 2011

South Korea said conflicts between opposition and ruling party lawmakers are disrupting efforts to make polluters pay for their emissions starting in 2015, according a Bloomberg report yesterday.

Opposition parties have boycotted all agenda schedules of the National Assembly, including those concerning carbon trading, Park Chun Kyoo, director general of the Presidential Committee on Green Growth, said in a telephone interview.

The boycott started after the ruling Grand National Party used its majority in the National Assembly on Nov. 23 to ratify a free-trade agreement between the US and South Korea.

“Our goal remains intact to proceed with the carbon legislation as soon as possible, with a target by the end of this year,” Park said. “Still, as the assembly is now wasting time with no talks, it’s unclear to assess when the legislation would be on track.”

The proposed legislation would make South Korea the third country in the Asia-Pacific region after Australia and New Zealand to ask polluters to pay for the cost of their greenhouse-gas emissions.

South Korea said in November 2009 that it plans to voluntarily cut emissions by 30 percent from an expected 813 million metric tons of greenhouse gas by 2020, or 4 percent below its 2005 emissions.