Seoul - Promise of Seoul

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Overcoming the crisis posed by climate change is thought of as a national challenge, but the roles of cities are emphasized on the ground through activities aiming to curb GHG emissions and adapt to climate change. It is time for cities around the world to make a bold shift from an economic growth-oriented approach to a low-carbon, energy-saving approach that values the environment. In this regard, Seoul wants to serve as a role model for climate change response for other cities, and showcase the involvement of its citizens in particular. Seoul has now set a long-term vision to become the world’s most eco-friendly and healthy city by 2020.


The Promise of Seoul aims to reduce 10 million tons of GHG emissions by 2020 (20%) and 20 million tons by 2030 (40%) and build a sustainable city by adapting to climate change in different sectors.

Key objectives include:

  • Relieving risks and vulnerability of climate change: the Promise of Seoul aims to build a resilient city that copes with the effects of climate such as extreme weather, and the SMG is taking measures to keep citizens safe from any disasters and infectious diseases. The city will create 5,000 spaces to avoid the heat by 2020 and foster 100,000 Citizen Safety Guards.
  • Improving energy efficiency and reducing energy use: Seoul plans to save 5m tons of oil tons equivalent and 20m tons of CO2e by 2030 through energy efficiency and conservation practices. Renewable energy is expected to amount to 14% of total consumption.
  • Consuming less water and improving water quality, with a goal of reducing 10 million tons of water supply by 2020.
  • Reducing traffic or encouraging citizens to take public transportation, walk and ride bicycles, with goals of increasing the use of public transportation to 66.5% by 2020. Seoul plans to have 2,000 km in bicycle lanes (a fourfold increase) and 250 pedestrian-only streets (up from 70) by 2030.
  • Using more renewable energy, by increasing the supply of renewable energy to 10% by 2020.
  • Managing solid waste better and scaling up recycling to 73% by 2020.

Projected Outcomes

Air quality is a key concern, and Seoul aims to reduce the number of premature deaths due to air pollution by 40%, by lowering the level of fine particles (PM2.5) in the air. Seoul wants to enlarge the green area of residential zones by more than 30%, while extending parks in residential areas, rooftop gardening and planting street trees. It also wants to expand forest trails and protected areas, and involve citizens in the planning and management of these schemes. The city government aims to increase spaces for urban agriculture tenfold, and link them with stronger farmers’ markets and education campaigns. Finally, the city aims to increase the use of rainwater and greywater, to encourage the use of tap water for drinking, to establish cooling centres to help citizens escape from heat waves, and to implement a responsive system dealing with flooding, snowfall and other extreme weather events.