SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - Samsung Electronics is moving away from fossil fuels and aims to fully power its global operations with clean electricity by 2050, a challenging goal that experts say could be hampered by South Korea's modest climate change commitments.
The South Korean tech giant is a leading producer of memory computer chips and smartphones and, by some estimates, is the biggest energy consumer among hundreds of global companies that have joined the "RE100" campaign to get 100% of their electricity from renewable sources such as wind and solar power.
Announcing its target on Thursday, the company said it aims to achieve emissions neutrality in its cellular, television and consumer electronics divisions by 2030, and in all its global operations, including semiconductors, by 2050.
The group plans to invest 7 trillion won (US$5 billion) by 2030 in projects aimed at reducing process gas emissions, controlling and recycling e-waste, conserving water and reducing pollutants. It also plans to develop new technologies to reduce power consumption in its consumer electronics devices and data centers, which would require more efficient memory chips, and set long-term goals to reduce emissions in its supply and logistics chains.
"Samsung is responding to the threats of climate change with a comprehensive plan that includes reducing emissions, new sustainability practices and developing innovative technologies and products that are better for our plan," Jong-Hee Han, the company's CEO, said in an e-mailed statement.
Samsung's plan drew praise from some of its investors, including Dutch pension management fund APG, which said the company could make a "significant contribution" to cleaning up the South Korean electricity market because of its impact and influence on the nation's economy.
But APG also showed concern that the announcement comes at a time when Seoul is scaling back its climate targets.
The conservative government of President Yoon Suk Yeol, who took office in May, has focused much of its energy policy on promoting nuclear-powered electricity. Desperate to boost a weak economy, the executive has been reluctant to drastically reduce the country's reliance on coal and gas, which generate about 65% of its electricity.