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Mapping the Path to Carbon Neutrality

As countries around the world consider whether and how to raise their decarbonization ambitions under the Paris climate agreement, South Korea hopes to serve as an example for others. With the right investments and policies, even a country ill-suited for wind or solar power can achieve carbon neutrality.

SEOUL – Unlike the United States, Europe, and other early industrializers whose carbon dioxide emissions have largely already peaked, most other countries were not concerned about climate change until recently. But over the past year, there has been a surge of governments announcing target dates for achieving net-zero emissions and committing to more ambitious decarbonization pathways.

Part of the reason for the change is that the COVID-19 pandemic has served as a wake-up call regarding the potential risks we face. Political, business, and civil-society leaders are now taking seriously the threat of a future “green swan” event that could trigger another systemic or global crisis.

Moreover, a growing number of governments have come to realize that pursuing carbon-neutral goals also will drive economic growth and deliver a higher quality of life for their citizens. Whereas simply restricting emissions through regulation once would have created a strong economic headwind, the global shift toward carbon neutrality has changed the economic calculus. New consumption and production patterns are creating new markets with far-reaching growth potential.

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