South Korea: Climate Progress Indicators

Between March and May 2022, Slight update in renewable energy use; decline in number of coal-fired power plants; no information on number of FCEVs on the road.

Climate Progress Indicators for South Korea

  • Indicator 1 – Share of renewable energy overall in energy mix
  • Indicator 2 – Number of coal-fired power plants
  • Indicator 3 – Number of deployed hydrogen FCEVs

This report contains a brief overview and update of the progress made by South Korea in reducing overall emissions using the aforementioned Climate Progress Indicators. There is a wide range of information and in some cases conflicting information available on this topic, the sources used for this report have been hyperlinked below.

Baseline Measurement
South Korea’s enhanced update Nationally Determined Contribution (2021) has outlined a new target of a 40% reduction in emissions from 2018 levels by 2030. Therefore, baseline measurements will be taken from 2018 data to more accurately track progress based on the nations NDCs.

  • Indicator 1: Renewable Energy (Monthly)
    • In 2018, renewable energy contributed 56% to total energy supply in South Korea.
  • Indicator 2: Coal-fired Power Plants (Monthly)
  • Indicator 3: Hydrogen FCEVs (Semi-Annually)

First Measurement
First measurements were reported on in Report 49, published April 2022.

  • Indicator 1: Renewable Energy
    • In December of 2021 renewable energy comprised 6.7% of South Korea’s energy mix.
  • Indicator 2: Coal-fired Power Plants
    • Report 49 indicated that as of January 2022, South Korea had 60 coal-fired power plants in operation.
  • Indicator 3: Hydrogen FCEVs
    • As described in Report 49, the number of FCVs on the road in South Korea totalled almost 20,000.

Updated Measurement: The most current information used to measure progress for South Korea’s Progress Indicators.

  • Indicator 1: Renewable Energy
    • Based on the most currently available data, renewable energy makes up 9% of South Korea’s total energy supply (May 2022).
  • Indicator 2: Coal-fired Power Plants
  • Indicator 3: Hydrogen FCEVs
    • Data has not yet been updated from report 49 as per the number of FCVs on the road in South Korea.


Change has been made to the date of the baseline measurements from December 2021 and January 2022 (See Report 49) to baseline measurements from 2018. These baseline measurements have been updated to ensure that assessment of South Korea’s progress in reducing GHG emissions by 40% of 2018 levels remains aligned with their updated Nationally Determined Contributions submitted under the Paris Agreement.

Based the on most current data available, the portion of renewable energy in South Korea’s energy mix has increased by 1.34% from 2018 levels. It is expected this figure will increase dramatically by 2030 as coal-fired power generation is phased out and the efficiency of renewable power generation is improved. Long-term plans made to increase the portion of renewable energy within the overall energy mix will see a decrease in emissions and an increase in affordability of electricity to Koreans.

There has been a dramatic decrease in the number of operation coal-fired power plants throughout South Korea from baseline levels to present measurements. This decrease is a positive progression in alignment with measures put in place to ban the construction of new coal-fired power plants and decommission older power plants throughout South Korea. However, reporting on solely the number of operational coal-fired powerplants as a progress indicator of South Korea’s movement towards lowering emissions must not discount the number of coal-fired power plants converted to liquified natural gas (LNG) plants – thereby utilising the infrastructure established as a coal-fired power plant, but functioning as more efficient and less emissive modes of power generation. Additionally, to assess the progress of South Korea moving towards the 40% reduction in emissions, consideration must be made to the continued operation of coal-fired power plants fitted with carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) technology – thus continuing to progress towards the emission reduction targets without a reduction in the number of coal-fired power plants.

A transition to electric and hydrogen vehicles on the roads in South Korea is expected to significantly reduce the emissions from the transport sector. As can be observed in this report, the number of FCV deployed in South Korea has increased tenfold, which is only expected to increase as infrastructure to facilitate these vehicles is developed. Although increasing the percentage of hydrogen and electric vehicles on the road is undoubtedly aligned with South Korea’s emission reduction targets, an important consideration must be made of the efficiency and optimisation of transport altogether. To see an investment in and an increased uptake in less emissive modes of transport (such as the utilisation of public transport) could also see a significant reduction in South Korea’s emissions by 2030.

Useful links:


This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard South Korea Country Manager Mia Ray


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