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South Korean Parliament to Debate Carbon-Trading Bill

South Korea’s presidential committee plans to submit legislation on carbon-emissions trading to parliament next month amid opposition from business groups.

The bill will have flexibility on the timing of its introduction and the quota for free permits, according to a report from the Committee on Green Growth to President Lee Myung Bak, as shown on the government website.

South Korea, Asia’s fourth-biggest polluter, said in November it aims to adopt a carbon-emissions trading system in 2013 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fight global warming. Under the initial plan, the nation will give away more than 90 percent of carbon permits in the first three years.

“We will fully reflect opinions of industries in adopting a carbon-emission trading system,” said the committee.

Business groups, including the largest Federation of Korean Industries, have requested the government delay the adoption of carbon-emissions trading as the system will increase costs and make domestic companies less competitive than rivals from Japan and China, which don’t have the program.

The emission-trading system would cost companies 14 trillion won ($13 billion) a year if the permits are put up for bidding, Korea Energy Management said on Jan. 11.

The government also announced on Sept. 28 that companies with factories producing at least 25,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide a year must set energy-saving and greenhouse gas-reduction targets by September 2011. They will face fines of as much as 10 million won if the targets aren’t met.

South Korea said in 2009 that it would voluntarily reduce carbon emissions by 30 percent from the expected 2020 level, or 4 percent below its emissions in 2005. South Korea may become the second nation to start emissions trading in Asia, after New Zealand, if the parliament approves.

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