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Nuclear energy crucial in fighting climate crisis: Seoul mayor

Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon emphasized the necessity of nuclear power plants, saying that increasing electricity consumption by expanding the use of electric vehicles (EVs) cannot be a fundamental solution to the climate crisis.

He pointed out that currently nearly 70 percent of electricity production in Korea relies on fossil fuels, and said he believes the country’s experiment in phasing out nuclear power has gone on long enough under the Moon Jae-in administration over the past five years.

“In fact, increasing electricity usage cannot be a fundamental solution to climate change,” Oh said in a press briefing at City Hall for the Seoul Metropolitan Government’s five-year project to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, Thursday.

This photo shows an electric vehicle charging station in Seoul. Courtesy of Seoul Metropolitan Government
Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon /Yonhap

“Through such painful experiments, a consensus has been made among the public that nuclear energy is the most desirable direction for energy development in response to climate change.”

He added, “If nuclear fusion power generation becomes possible in the future, we can reach the ultimate goal of sustainable energy.”

He said the country’s nuclear power generation technology is still reliable, and can still be said to be leading the world.

The mayor said there is a prediction that the proportion of nuclear power generation in the nation’s energy mix will expand up to 70 percent in 20 years.

“If that really happens, the government’s medium- to long-term roadmap for responding to climate change will become more feasible,” he said.

When asked if he thinks it’s possible to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2026 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, Oh said, “I can’t help but admit that we have set a very challenging goal.”

He went on, “But please interpret it as an expression of strong will on the part of the city government. In the case of large cities including Seoul, 69 percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from buildings, most of which are already built, so it is difficult to achieve carbon neutrality unless it is based on strong action.”

According to data from the city government, construction work accounted for 68.7 percent of Seoul’s total emissions. As transportation also accounted for 19.2 percent, the city government said it will focus on cutting down emissions from the two sectors.

As part of efforts to renovate worn-out buildings into low-emission ones, the city promotes a project to increase the energy efficiency of such old buildings. In the case of houses and buildings, interest-free loans are provided for construction costs for energy efficiency, and subsidies will be provided to public housing for introducing high-efficiency boilers and LED lighting.

When buildings of 100,000 square meters or bigger are newly constructed, they are required to be designed as zero-energy buildings (ZEB) generating most of the energy needed self-sufficiently.

The city government also plans to supply up to 400,000 EVs and 220,000 EV charging stations across the city by 2026 in order to reduce carbon emissions from vehicles. This means that about 10 percent of total vehicles, including 50 percent of buses and 20 percent of taxis, will be replaced with EVs, the city government said.

Source: The Korea Times