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OECD Environmental Performance Reviews: Korea 2017

image of OECD Environmental Performance Reviews: Korea 2017

OECD Environmental Performance Reviews provide independent assessments of countries’ progress towards their environmental policy objectives. Reviews promote peer learning, enhance government accountability, and provide targeted recommendations aimed at improving environmental performance, individually and collectively. They are supported by a broad range of economic and environmental data, and evidence-based analysis. Each cycle of Environmental Performance Reviews covers all OECD countries and selected partner economies. The most recent reviews include Chile and France (2016).

This report is the third Environmental Performance Review of Korea. It evaluates progress towards sustainable development and green growth, with a focus on waste and materials management, and environmental justice.

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Executive summary

Korea has been one of the fastest growing OECD economies over the past decade, driven by a large export-oriented manufacturing sector. However, this growth has come with high pollution and resource consumption. Although greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) have risen less quickly than GDP since 2000, they grew faster than in most other OECD countries and Korea became the fifth largest GHG emitter in the OECD. Its energy mix is dominated by fossil fuels and the share of renewables is the lowest in the OECD. Emissions of many air pollutants have been decoupled from economic growth but exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is severe and the number of premature deaths caused by outdoor air pollution is projected to almost triple by 2060. Infrastructure development is putting considerable pressure on ecosystems and well-being varies widely between regions. Environmental challenges are exacerbated by the population density, which is the highest in the OECD.

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