Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO)

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Performance Band
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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 appears less supportive of stronger ambition with regard to specific climate policies such as the Korean Emissions Trading Scheme (K-ETS) and measures to transition Korea’s energy mix.

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 2020 Sustainability Report published in September 2020, KEPCO acknowledged the climate crisis and the need to reduce global GHG emissions. However, the company did not appear to take a clear position on the Paris Agreement or the need to limit global temperature increases to 1.5°C or 2°C in line with IPCC guidance. In the same report, KEPCO appeared to support the achievement of Korea’s national policy goals related to climate change.

Engagement with Climate-related Regulations: KEPCO disclosed limited information on its climate policy positions in 2020-21 in its most recent corporate reporting. The company appears to express support for the achievement of South Korea’s federal renewable energy target and GHG target in its 2019 and 2020 Sustainability Reports, respectively.

In its 2020 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’.

In a report released by the KEPCO Management Research Institute in December 2020, KEPCO expressed support for the introduction of Energy Efficiency Resource Standards and other energy demand management policies in Korea. KEPCO’s 2020 CDP response also disclosed the company’s support for the government’s “Renewable 3020” policy , which establishes a target to produce 20% of energy from renewable sources by 2030. In the same disclosure, KEPCO states support with minor exceptions for Energy Efficiency Resource Standards.

Positioning on Energy Transition: In its 2020 Sustainability Report, the company appeared to support a reduction of coal-fired power generation in the energy mix, although with some ambiguity around the pace and extent of this transition. In 2020, KEPCO President and CEO, Jong-Kap Kim, stated the company’s commitment to play a leading role in the energy transition. KEPCO’s 2020 Sustainability Report further stated support for the decarbonization of the electric power industry and the development of green hydrogen production. 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.

However, 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.

Evidence from a March 2021 report published by the KEPCO Management Research Institute suggests that KEPCO is supports a continued role for coal in the energy mix, instead advocating for increased use of CCS that will allow fossil fuel facilities to be “used continuously as a power generation source”. 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.

Industry Association Governance: KEPCO has disclosed a list of its memberships to industry associations, but with no further details of the company's role within each organization, nor its influence over their climate change policy positions. KEPCO has not published a review of its industry associations’ alignment on climate change policy.

Additional Note: The South Korean government owns 51.11% of KEPCO through direct and indirect stakes. It is likely that KEPCO retains channels of direct and private engagement with South Korean 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.