Total Pollutant Load Management System : Moving away from Follow-up Measures to Preventive Measures

Date 2015-06-19 Category Environment Updater scaadmin
Seoul Metropolitan Government
Last Update


Total Air Pollution Load Management System is a preventive measure to manage the total amount of emissions of business operators unlike the previous system that focused on ex-post management of the emission concentration. The total amount of allowable emission is determined after taking into account the reduction target for each pollutant, then each business operator is allocated a certain amount of allowable emissions.


Boosting the Air Quality of Seoul to the Level of Major Cities in Advanced Economies

Poor Air Quality of Seoul, Unfitting the Status of the City
The concentration of fine dust and carbon dioxide of the metropolitan region including Seoul, Incheon, and Gyeonggi province is higher than that of OECD member states. As such, air pollution in the Seoul metropolitan region is more serious than in major cities of advanced economies and other cities in Korea, leading to a huge social cost and a drag on the country’s competitiveness.
Improving Institutions to Reduce Emission of Air Pollutants
In order to improve the air quality of the metropolitan region, the Special Act on the Improvement of Air and Environment for Seoul Metropolitan Area was enacted in 2003. This Special Act stipulates a Total Pollutant Load Management System that controls the total amount of emission of pollutants in the metropolitan region. The previous system only regulated each pollutant respectively without taking into consideration the total amount of emission, but under the new system, the total emission of pollutants will be managed after calculating the cap.

In December 2004, the Total Pollutant Load Management System and Emission Trading Scheme were implemented to target large-scale business operators. In addition, relevant laws were enacted to promote low-polluting vehicles such as electric hybrid vehicles and mandate the installation of pollution-reduction devices on diesel cars. In November 2005, the Basic Plan for the Air Quality Improvement of the Capital Area was announced, followed by the Enforcement Plan in January 2007 which included a detailed implementation plan for the next 10 years.

Total Pollutant Load Management System, the Solution to Improve Air Quality
The previous system regulated the concentration of each pollutant, which means that if the pollutant generated at a business site exceeded a certain level, then it was considered a violation regardless the amount emitted. Under the current system, total allowable emission is allocated to each business operator every year and if the business operator exceeds the cap, a fine will be imposed or a smaller amount of emission will be allocated in the following year. NOx and Sox will be regulated under the new system, the scope of which will be gradually expanded after starting with large-scale business sites.

Encouraging Voluntary Participation to Reduce Air Pollutants

Total Pollutant Load Management System
Under the Total Pollutant Load Management System, business operators that reduced emission can sell the surplus allowances on the ETS to those businesses that need more allowances. The price of the allowances will be determined through a contract between the two parties. In principle, the price of the allowances are based on the market mechanism and the rule of supply and demand, under the oversight of the Metropolitan Air Quality Management Office. The surplus allowances can be sold or carried forward to the next year. Some facilities that use low sulfur oil fuel may be exempt from regulation or imposition of fines. Business owners that install optimized prevention devices or smokestack tele-monitoring system may receive technical support from Korea Environment Corporation.
Managing the Total Amount of Emission
To check the compliance with the total emission cap, business operators are obligated to calculate the emission of each pollutant and report to the local government. According to article 16 of the Special Act on the Improvement of Air and Environment for Seoul Metropolitan Area, business operators need to install devices to measure the emission of pollutants (i.e. smokestack tele-monitoring system, emission measurement device, or fuel flow meter) and manage the emission on a monthly basis. If it is difficult to install such devices, the business operators should calculate the emission amount based on emission factor, unit of emission, and other estimates. If emissions from a site exceeds the cap, the government may levy a penalty surcharge. In addition, the government may reduce the emission amount allocated to that business owner not exceeding 1.8 times the amount of the excess emission.