S.Korea to start cap-and-trade from 2015: reports

SEOUL Fri Feb 25, 2011 10:01pm EST

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea will start carbon emission trading from January 1 of 2015, local media said on Saturday quoting senior government officials, while industry still strongly opposes the plan.

A presidential secretary told Reuters this month South Korea, OECD's fastest-growing carbon polluter, would start cap-and-trade between 2013 and 2015 after strong opposition from industry to the government's initial plan to start in 2013.

Powerful export-led conglomerates in Asia's fourth-largest economy have been pushing for a delay given competitor nations such as Japan and the United States have delayed or shelved emissions trading schemes for now.

Industries want to discuss carbon trading in 2015 and onward, head of a taskforce for climate change at the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry said last month.

"The revised bill increased percentage of free carbon allowances to reduce burdens on companies," the Korea Economic Daily quoted the prime minister's office as saying.

Under the revision, yet to be approved by parliament, the percentage of free carbon allowances is over 95 percent, up from the original over 90 percent. The remainder was set to be auctioned.

Earlier in the month, major business groups filed a petition to the government calling for a moratorium on the plan, arguing that full-fledged trading could cost up to 14 trillion won ($12.43 billion) to South Korean manufacturers if 100 percent of credits were eventually provided at a cost via auctioning.

Emissions from South Korea's economy have doubled since 1990, are slightly larger than Australia's nearly 600 million metric tons and, on a per-capita basis, are on a par with some European nations.

The government aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent from projected levels by 2020. Under emissions trading, a government sets a cap on carbon pollution and relies on an ever-decreasing supply of permits for each metric ton of emissions to push companies to become more efficient.

($1=1126.0 Won)

(Reporting by Cho Mee-young; Editing by Sugita Katyal)