Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO)

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Performance Band
Organisation Score
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Naju, South Korea

Climate Lobbying Overview: Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) appears to be engaging on a number of climate policy issues in South Korea. KEPCO has issued positive top-line statements regarding the need for climate action, but has opposed specific measures to transition Korea’s energy mix including the South Korean government’s Carbon Neutral Scenario. KEPCO also appears to be less supportive of stronger ambition with regard to climate policies such as the Korean Emissions Trading Scheme (K-ETS).

Top-line Messaging on Climate Policy: KEPCO has expressed some support for climate action in its top-line messaging, but lacks detail regarding the level of ambition required on a global scale. In its 2021 Sustainability Report, published in November 2021, KEPCO appeared to broadly support South Korea’s effort to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, and to support the Paris Agreement. A KEPCO blog post published in October 2021 appeared to show broad support for the South Korean government’s Green New Deal policy for energy transition. However, the company does not appear to explicitly support the broader need for government regulation to respond to climate change.

Engagement with Climate-related Regulations: KEPCO has disclosed limited information on its climate policy positions in its most recent corporate reporting between 2020-22. In its 2021 Sustainability Report, published in MONTH/YEAR, the company appeared to express support for South Korea’s 2030 National Determined Contribution (NDC), including increased greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets. However, several KEPCO subsidiaries, including Korea Southern Power, took a negative stance on the South Korean Carbon Neutral Scenario outlining the pathway to reaching 2030 and 2050 climate targets, in particular opposing the phaseout of coal by 2050.

KEPCO stated support for increased public investments in renewable energy in its 2021 Sustainability Report. However, KEPCO subsidiary Korea South-East Power did not appear to support ambitious renewable energy policy, submitting an opinion to the South Korean government’s Carbon Neutrality Committee in October 2021 that highlighted the economic costs and technical difficulties of increased renewable energy production via government policy.

In its 2021 CDP response, KEPCO expressed support for South Korea’s national emissions trading scheme (K-ETS), although it did not specify what the ‘improvements’ to the scheme that it is suggesting to the government entail. The Hankyoreh reported in September 2020 that at a public hearing hosted by the South Korean government on the Phase Three allocation plan for the K-ETS, the company expressed opposition to the proposed decrease in the amount of free allowances for coal power generation, citing concern for the ‘burden of reduction costs’. KEPCO stated support for the introduction of the Energy Efficiency Resource Standards (EERS) in Korea via its 2021 Sustainability Report. However, in its 2021 CDP Climate Change response, KEPCO proposed revisions to the EERS to ‘conserve costs’ without giving further detail, making it unclear whether it would impact the overall ambition of the EERS negatively or positively.

Positioning on Energy Transition: Although KEPCO states top-line support for decarobinizing the energy sector, it also supports the continued role of coal and LNG in the energy mix, and has opposed the South Korean government’s 2050 coal phaseout target. In October 2021, KEPCO subsidiary Korea Southern Power strongly opposed the Carbon Neutrality Scenario proposal to eliminate coal-fired power generation in Korea by 2050, citing ‘financial burden’ on power generation companies. KEPCO also appears to advocate for the prolonged role of coal in the power sector through its support for ammonia co-firing, including an official blog post published in January 2022 that advocated for ammonia combustion in thermal power plants. In addition, KEPCO opposed reducing the number of free emissions allowances for coal power generation through the application of integrated benchmarks in the K-ETS.

KEPCO also appears to support a major role for LNG in the energy mix, without placing clear conditions on the need for CCS. In an opinion statement on the Carbon Neutrality Scenario submitted in October 2021, KEPCO subsidiary Korea Midland Power appeared to support a transition away from coal that promoted LNG over other zero carbon options, citing ‘double burden of asset loss and new financing’ and requesting that a new LNG power plant be built to replace coal power generation. In December 2021, KEPCO published a blog post that stated support for LNG to be included as a green industry in the Korean sustainable finance taxonomy (K-taxonomy), on the basis that it is 'low carbon'. Evidence suggests that KEPCO still supports investments that will enable the future role for coal in the energy mix. Yonhap News reported in October 2020 that KEPCO will invest in the building of the Vung Ang 2 coal power plant in Vietnam, as a contractor for the Vietnamese Ministry of Trade and Industry. In September 2021, ABC News Australia reported that an Australian Court of Appeal had rejected KEPCO’s repeated appeals to gain permission for a thermal coal mine project in New South Wales.

In its 2021 Sustainability Report, KEPCO appeared to support a transition to a carbon- neutral energy sector, although it did not specify the pace and extent of this transition. A KEPCO research report released in June 2021 recommended policies that strengthen the classification of clean hydrogen, and investment in green hydrogen as well as blue hydrogen on the condition that it is used with CCS technology.

Industry Association Governance: KEPCO has disclosed a list of its memberships to industry associations, in its 2021 Sustainability Report, but with no further details of the company's role within each organization, nor its influence over their climate change policy positions. InfluenceMap has detected KEPCO’s memberships in the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) and the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI). EEI has directly advocated to preserve the role of fossil gas in the US energy mix. KCCI demonstrates highly negative engagement with climate policy in South Korea, and actively opposed the upward revision of Korea’s 2030 NDC GHG emissions reduction target, as well as stating broad opposition to climate regulations and policies such as the EU CBAM. KEPCO has not published a review of its industry associations’ alignment on climate change policy.

Additional Note: KEPCO is a listed company with more than 50% of its shares owned by the government of South Korea. State-owned enterprises likely retain channels of direct and private engagement with government officials that InfluenceMap is unable to assess, and therefore are not represented in KEPCO's engagement intensity metric. There is evidence that KEPCO is engaging with the South Korean government on several policy issues through its membership of several committees such as the Operating Committee of the Emissions Trading Market Council and the National Assembly Forum of Climate Change. However, InfluenceMap is not able to fully capture the content discussed in these forums with publicly available information.

Strength of Relationship

How to Read our Relationship Score Map

In this section, we depict graphically the relationships the corporation has with trade associations, federations, advocacy groups and other third parties who may be acting on their behalf to influence climate change policy. Each of the columns above represents one relationship the corporation appears to have with such a third party. In these columns, the top, dark section represents the strength of the relationship the corporation has with the influencer. For example if a corporation's senior executive also held a key role in the trade association, we would deem this to be a strong relationship and it would be on the far left of the chart above, with the weaker ones to the right. Click on these grey shaded upper sections for details of these relationships. The middle section contains a link to the organization score details of the influencer concerned, so you can see the details of its climate change policy influence. Click on the middle sections for for details of the trade associations. The lower section contains the organization score of that influencer, the lower the more negatively it is influencing climate policy.