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Korean Companies’ Understanding of Carbon Pricing and Its Influence on Policy Acceptance and Practices

In Environmental and Resource Economics Review Volume 26, Number 4

In response to climate change, Korea is attempting to shift the paradigm of energy and climate change policies by introducing carbon pricing based on market mechanisms. While policy adoption is proceeding at a rapid pace, the introduction of carbon pricing has been faced with great opposition from industry. This study measures to what extent Korean companies understand and accept carbon pricing, using data from a questionnaire survey covering energy consuming companies in 2012, when discussions between the government and such companies about the introduction of a domestic emission trading system were active. It further identifies how preparations and practices for carbon and energy management of companies correlate with their policy understanding and acceptance. The analysis results show that the surveyed companies indicate moderate understanding of, as well as resistance to carbon pricing policies, while appreciating the economic incentives and accepting the mandatory regulations in this phase. Companies’ understanding is more related to characteristics, i.e., sector, size, etc. than external pressures. This study found that the extent to which companies understand policy is the essential factor in their policy acceptance and related practices. In particular, understanding of carbon policy significantly influences their managerial practices and voluntary activities for carbon and energy practices. This study substantiates the correlation between the level of policy understanding of a company and its carbon and energy practices – something that all countries seeking to introduce carbon pricing in response to climate change should consider prior to policy actually being implemented; in other words, enhancing the understanding of major policy subjects of the new instrument is a key policy strategy that should be elaborated as it will lead to better performance of companies and smoother policy implementation.

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