Sian Crampsie

South Korea’s new president says he will force coal-fired power plants in the country to close in a bid to tackle air pollution.

President Moon Jae-in has ordered coal-fired plants older than 30 years to be temporarily closed during the spring months because of high particulate levels.

In the longer-term, the plants will be shut down permanently, or converted to natural gas firing.

The order affects ten coal-fired power plants with a combined generating capacity of 3.3 GW. In 2018, they will be shut down from March to June.

The move was a key election pledge of Moon, who took office in May 2017. Emissions from coal-fired power plants have been identified as one of the major sources of fine dust in Korea, along with emissions from diesel vehicles and industrial dust coming from China.

Fine dust levels have worsened in Korea in the last few months. Earlier in May warnings were issued in 12 regions because of high levels, according to local reports.

Moon has also ordered the creation of a new body tasked with tackling air pollution, and pledged to provide schools with air quality measuring instruments. He also said that he had no concerns over energy supply shortages because of South Korea’s 20 per cent capacity margin.