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Implementing Climate Change Impact Assessment System for Carbon Neutrality

2023.01.06

The climate change impact assessment system, which was introduced as a means to cope with climate crisis under the Framework Act on Carbon Neutrality and Green Growth for Coping with Climate Crisis (hereinafter referred to as the “Act”), became effective on September 25, 2022 after a one-year grace period.  With the implementation of the climate change impact assessment system, major national plans and large-scale development projects now must (i) assess their impacts on or from climate change and (ii) implement greenhouse gas reduction measures and climate crisis adaptation measures.

Key details of the climate change impact assessment system are as follows:

1.   Assessment Subjects and Methods
 

The subjects of the climate change impact assessment under Article 15 of the Enforcement Decree of the Framework Act on Carbon Neutrality are ten industries that are either emitting a large amount of greenhouse gases or vulnerable to climate crisis.  The ten industries are (i) energy development, (ii) industrial site and complex development, (iii) urban development, (iv) water resource development, (v) port construction, (vi) mountain development, (vii) river use and development, (viii) road construction, (ix) airport construction, and (x) installation of waste and livestock manure treatment facilities.  In particular, the industries (viii) to (x) will be subject to the climate change impact assessment from September 25, 2023.

The planning agencies or business operators subject to the climate change impact assessment must assess the relevant plans or projects in terms of greenhouse gas reduction or climate crisis adaptation.  Regarding greenhouse gas reductions, reduction goals must be established by comprehensively considering all relevant factors (e.g., greenhouse gas emission forecasts, mid-to long-term reduction goals, and technological levels) and must be achieved by presenting reduction plans for each sector, including the energy, buildings, transportations and wastes sectors.  Reduction plans for each sector may consider, among others, renewable energy, reuse of treated sewage water, zero-carbon buildings, and Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage (“CCUS”) technology.

With regard to adaptation, optimal adaptation measures must be implemented by identifying climate crisis factors (e.g., heat waves, floods, and rising sea levels) from mid-to long-term climate change scenarios and national/regional adaptation plans.  Optimal adaptation measures may include, among others, minimizing impermeable areas and installing rainwater storage facilities to prepare for flooding caused by torrential rain spurred by climate change.
 

2.   Assessment Procedures and Review
 

The Ministry of Environment (the “MOE”) announced that the climate change impact assessment will be conducted in the same manner as the environmental impact assessment, but a separate and specialized review on “climate” will be additionally conducted.  Specifically, (i) pre-assessment statements for (strategic) environmental impact assessment must include details on the impacts of climate change, (ii) a draft of the climate change impact assessment report must be separately prepared, and (iii) a review of the climate change impact assessment report must be requested simultaneously with the request for consultation on the (strategic) environmental impact assessment report to the MOE or relevant regional environmental office.  Once a review is requested, the MOE will review the reduction targets, reduction measures, and adaptation measures presented in the (strategic) environmental impact assessment report together with professional climate institutions (e.g., the Greenhouse Gas Inventory and Research Center, Korea Adaptation Center for Climate Change, and National Institute of Environmental Research) and present its official opinion within the consultation period for the environmental impact assessment.

With regard to reduction, factors such as the use of the latest emission coefficients, consistency with the reduction goals, latest technology trends, similar reduction cases, and specific reduction goals and measures will be reviewed.  On the other hand, regarding adaptation, factors such as the status of climate change, analysis of forecasts, reliability of relevant data, calculation of risks and adaptation measures, and consistency with the national and local adaptation measures will be reviewed.
 

The implementation of the climate change impact assessment system will likely have a significant impact on a range of projects, including energy development, urban/road/port/airport construction, and waste disposal projects.  Considering that it is one of the new administration’s national agendas and it is still in the early stage, any issues related to the climate change impact assessment system need to be thoroughly scrutinized during the implementation of such plans and projects.  We therefore advise companies to familiarize themselves with the details of the relevant laws and regulations (e.g., Public Notice of the Regulation on the Climate Change Impact Assessment Method, Established Rules of the Regulations on Handling Climate Change Impact Assessment Report, and Guideline to the Climate Change Impact Assessment soon to be distributed) and to strategically respond to the implementation of, and changes to, the climate change impact assessment system.

 

{Korean Version]

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