New report calls on South Korea to accelerate shipping decarbonization

NGOs call on world’s largest shipbuilder to increase zero-emission shipbuilding and port infrastructure subsidies, end all fossil fuel shipbuilding and bunkering build-out, and firmly take the lead on zero-emission shipping in Asia
Date: December 13, 2022

Seoul, South Korea (December 13, 2022) – Today, Solutions for Our Climate (기후솔루션) and Pacific Environment released a new report that provides an achievable vision for green shipping and a zero-emission future for the Korean shipping industry. Shipping is the bloodline of South Korea’s economy, with 99.7% of South Korea’s imports and exports transported by sea. If Korea, the leading shipbuilder in the world, fails to rapidly embrace the clean energy transition in ocean shipping, it risks losings its foothold and dominance in the shipping and shipbuilding industries.

“Today was an important step in progressing Korea’s shipping decarbonization efforts,” said John Yum from Solutions for our Climate. “SFOC, a climate research and advocacy group, jointly hosted a seminar with PE, where a scoping report of the shipping landscape of Korea was launched. The seminar focused on how to accelerate and encompass various ways to decarbonize the Korea’s shipping industry.”

South Korea is a leading nation in both shipping and shipbuilding, ranking 7th for the number of vessels owned, 4th based on traffic at container ports, and 1st based on construction of ships. Recently, at the 27th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27), Korea agreed to work with the United States on feasibility study for Busan and Seattle/Tacoma ports’ green corridor, but we believe that four key policy recommendations can accelerate Korea’s zero-emission goals.

“South Korea is well positioned to help lead the world towards zero-carbon shipping and zero-emission ports,” said Madeline Rose, Pacific Environment’s Climate Campaign Director. “If the government fails to harness this moment in climate history and transition its maritime industry to clean energy, the country risks losing shipbuilding market share to other competitors. The policy recommendations in our report outline an initial pathway towards faster, greener shipping and ports in South Korea.”

The report provides four priority policy recommendations to accelerate Korea’s efforts to achieve zero emissions.

  1. Commit to 100% zero-emission shipping no later than 2050, ideally 2040, and set zero emission At-Berth policy by 2030 and zero emission standards for harbor craft such as ferries by 2035;
  2. Implement its first green corridor and expand green corridors to other ports and countries;
  3. Accelerate and increase investments in green propulsion technologies and green hydrogen fuels; and
  4. End public financing for fossil-fueled ships, including both heavy fuel oil and Liquified Natural Gas (LNG).

The shipping industry emits an estimated 1 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide each year. If it were a country, the shipping industry would be the sixth largest emitter, ahead of Germany. On its current trajectory, maritime trade is projected to grow by as much as 130% by 2050 over today’s trade volume. By eliminating fossil fuels from the shipping industry, the South Korea can set an international example and has the opportunity to continue to dominate the shipping industry as a green shipping steward, protect public health and create jobs.


About Solutions for Our Climate:

Solutions for Our Climate is a nonprofit organization established in 2016 for more effective climate action and energy transition based in Seoul, South Korea. SFOC is led by legal, economic, financial and environmental experts with experience in energy and climate policy and works closely with domestic and international players.

About Pacific Environment:

Pacific Environment is a global environmental organization that protects communities and wildlife of the Pacific Rim. We support community leaders to fight climate change, protect the oceans, build just societies, and move away from fossil fuels toward a green economy.