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Although South Korea has a major dependence on fossil fuels, such as coal, the government encourages innovations to save resources and reduce emissions in the years coming by investing in research and development activities. According to a SWOT analysis, South Korea’s biggest obstacles they face is insufficient resources and being the seventh largest polluter in terms of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Although, the government is determined to increase renewable resources by 2020.
South Korea’s insufficient natural resources creates a heavy reliance on imports of natural resources to cover its energy needs. In 2015, imports of mineral fuels, oils and distillation products totaled US$146 billion (33.5% of South Korea’s total imports), the third largest in the world. This makes South Korean businesses and consumers vulnerable to changes in global energy prices and supply conditions. Because of this heavy reliance on mineral fuels, coal was responsible for 54.1% of total CO2 emissions in 2015 within South Korea. This makes it difficult for the country to reduce emissions as well as becoming more reliant on coal-fired power generation. It also makes it difficult to increase renewable energy resources.
While pollution of CO2 is a big hurdle for the South Korean government, in April of 2016, South Korea was one of the 180 signatures of the Paris Climate Agreement, which comes into force in 2020. As part of this climate commitment, South Korea plans to shut down 10 old coal-fired power plants by 2025. The Government also unveiled a plan in early 2016 to invest more than USD $36.0 billion in developing renewable energy industries, including solar and wind power and eco-friendly power plants, by 2020. Despite the fact that many jobs will be ending as South Korea decreases its’ dependency on coal, this investment into renewable resources will create more opportunities for businesses in the sector.