SEOUL, Jul. 5 (Korea Bizwire) — A report that analyzed the major sources of air pollution was released yesterday by the Korea Institute of Public Finance. Despite the commonly held belief that diesel cars are the top producer of fine particulate matter (PM2.5), the report refutes that notion.
In fact, the data indicated that 47.91 percent of the fine particulate matter emitted was actually produced by the manufacturing sector, making it the number one producer of air pollution in Korea. Cars ranked third in the emissions rankings, behind airplanes and ships. They were found to have produced 14.57 percent of the total of fine particulate matter emissions.
Diesel was discovered to be a major contributor, however. Among cars and other ground transportation vehicles, those that run on diesel produced the highest levels of fine particulate matter. Among the three major types of fuel – diesel, gasoline and LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) – diesel produced an overwhelming majority of 99.7 percent of total emissions. Gasoline produced the rest, with LPG producing nearly none at all.
Diesel was also much more likely to emit other harmful greenhouse gases and cause greater damage to the environment overall. It led the pack once again with up to an estimated 20 trillion won in damages caused to the environment, with 1.9 trillion won of the total amount comprised of damages caused specifically by fine particulate matter. Gasoline and LPG came in at 6.7 trillion won and 1.6 trillion won in estimated damages, respectively.
There is speculation that the government’s fuel subsidies are also guilty of adding to the environmental damages. Currently, the government offers subsidies to taxis and buses that run on diesel, as well as to certain companies that require financial assistance for their vehicles. If government subsidies are omitted from the total amount, estimated financial damages fall to 13 trillion won from 20 trillion won.
Due to the government’s fuel subsidies, many are doubtful as to whether raising taxes on diesel fuel will change anything. It is believed that those receiving subsidies will continue using diesel regardless of any policy changes.
Regardless of such general sentiment, the government announced that a coalition of four different agencies will conduct a study on the financial ramifications of diesel’s harmful effects on the environment. The study will seek to answer the question as to whether diesel fuel should be priced higher.
By S.B. Woo (email@example.com)