The Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association and Climate Policy

An InfluenceMap Briefing

March 2023

Executive Summary

This briefing provides an analysis of the climate-related policy engagement of the Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association (KAMA), which includes Hyundai Motor, KIA, General Motors Korea (GM Korea), and Renault Korea Motors in its corporate members. The briefing contains data from InfluenceMap’s online platform, which tracks, assesses, and scores over 400 companies and 200 industry associations on their engagement with climate change policy against Paris-aligned benchmarks, and the Korean Corporate Climate Policy Engagement Data Platform.

The automotive industry is one of South Korea’s key industries, accounting for 13.6% of the country’s Gross Manufacturing Product. The entire transport sector produced 13.7% of the country’s total GHG emissions in 2018 and the road transport emissions contributed over 95% of this. Considering the high GHG emissions from the automotive industry, the South Korean government  has announced several policy measures for road transport transition, including a ZEV Dissemination policy. The government also plans to announce a 2035 ZEV transition target

InfluenceMap’s analysis indicates that KAMA has been actively and obstructively engaged with climate policy in South Korea and the EU. KAMA has not supported the Korea Emissions Trading Scheme (K-ETS), a more ambitious 2030 National GHG emissions reduction target, and key policies for decarbonizing the road transport sector in South Korea, such as the 2035 Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles ban pledge and the Zero Emissions Vehicles (ZEV) Dissemination Policy. It also does not support EU climate regulations such as the EU Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM)

KAMA acts as the collective voice of automakers in South Korea, but InfluenceMap’s research indicates that KAMA's climate policy advocacy is misaligned with its members’ positions on various climate policy issues globally, including 2050 climate targets, 2030 climate targets, ZEV mandates, and the phaseout of ICE vehicles. * Such activity by KAMA could undermine its members’ commitments to Paris-aligned climate transitions in South Korea and other regions. In line with the Global Standard on Responsible Climate Lobbying, KAMA member companies could be asked by investors to conduct and publish a climate policy alignment assessment with their industry associations, including action taken to address misalignments.

South Korea Platform

InfluenceMap’s South Korea platform tracks the real-time climate policy engagement of South Korea's 15 largest companies, alongside 15 key industry associations. The platform provides detailed analysis of key entities, their influencing strategies and the impact of this activity at a policy level.

Investors in the South Korean automotive industry may consider engaging directly with KAMA and the individual automakers with regards to the misalignment on key climate policy areas between the association and its members. South Korea represents a key source of global ZEV technology and innovation. However, KAMA's opposition to Paris-aligned climate policy risks having a detrimental effect on the domestic ZEV-related value chain in South Korea, and thus its positions and advocacy could be of concern to shareholder value in corporate Korea.  


EV = Electric vehicle

ICEV = Internal combustion engine vehicle: An ICE vehicle is powered by a combustion engine powered by fossil fuels (e.g. gasoline or diesel).

ZEV = Zero emission vehicle: A vehicle that produces no CO2 tailpipe emissions, including battery electricity vehicles (BEVs) and hydrogen-powered fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs).

* This briefing contains aggregated data and scores on the global climate policy engagement of Hyundai Motor Group, General Motors (GM) and Renault, which includes the activities of their subsidiaries Hyundai Motor & KIA, GM Korea, and Renault Korea Motors. While Hyundai Motor Group, GM and Renault actively engage in climate policy globally at a group level, GM Korea and Renault Korea Motors appear to not be actively engaging with climate policy in South Korea. Meanwhile, the climate policy engagement of KAMA is largely restricted to South Korean policy.

Graph 1: Climate Policy Positions of the Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association (KAMA) vs. those of Global Positions of Corporate Members' Parent Companies

Hover over each circle to view additional information.


Climate Policy Engagement in South Korea

Corporate climate change policy engagement is a key issue for investors. It is an integral part of the Climate Action 100+ (CA100+) investor-engagement process to ensure the world’s largest corporate GHG emitters take appropriate action on climate, which now has over 617 investor signatories with a total of $55 trillion (USD) in assets under management. 

As a research partner to CA100+, InfluenceMap maintains a global system for tracking, assessing and scoring companies on their engagement with climate change policy against Paris-aligned benchmarks in InfluenceMap’s platform, currently covering around 400 companies along with over 200 key industry associations. 

In South Korea, ‘third-party lobbying activity’, referring to lobbying conducted by a paid lobbyist on behalf of a third party, is banned by law. However, companies engage in the policymaking process using a variety of methods, both directly and indirectly through industry associations.  

InfluenceMap refers to the UN's Guide for Responsible Corporate Engagement in Climate Policy as a guide for what constitutes engagement. This can include advertising, social media, public relations, sponsoring research, direct contact with regulators and elected officials, funding of campaigns and political parties, and participation in policy advisory committees. A detailed description of InfluenceMap’s scoring methodology can be found in Appendix A of this document, and on our website here.  

As of 2023, InfluenceMap has found evidence of all the forms of engagement listed in the UN Guide above, except for the corporate funding of campaigns, which is also forbidden by law in South Korea. 

In October 2022, InfluenceMap launched the Korean Corporate Climate Policy Engagement Data Platform that provides InfluenceMap’s assessment of policy engagement of South Korean corporates and industry associations. Currently, the Korea Platform covers 15 corporates and 15 industry associations in South Korea.

Science Based Climate Policy and Road Transport

Over the last few years, a series of historic climate reports from the IPCC, April 2022 Working Group III report, and the International Energy Agency (IEA), May 2021 Net Zero by 2050 report, have become increasingly clear in their robust policy advice to reduce automotive sector emissions in line with global climate targets.  

Globally, road transport was responsible for around 16% of global energy-related CO2 emissions in 2019, according to the IPCC’s April 2022 Working Group III report (AR6). The report found that “meeting climate mitigation goals would require transformative changes in the transport sector” (IPCC AR6, TS-67, 2) as “CO2 emissions from transport could grow in the range of 16% and 50% by 2050” (IPCC AR6, TS-68, 23-24), potentially jeopardizing global climate goals given that transport emissions have historically grown faster than other sectors. The Summary for Policymakers (SPM) report also notes that "electric vehicles powered by low emissions electricity offer the largest decarbonization potential for land-based transport, on a life cycle basis (high confidence)" (IPCC AR6, SPM-41, C.8).  

A more detailed overview of the latest research and how automakers are strategically transforming their electrification strategies in response can be found in InfluenceMap’s 2022 Automotive Sector and Climate Change Report. Key findings from the report are that the world’s largest automakers are undermining a 1.5 °C-aligned transition towards zero emissions vehicles (ZEV) and most automotive companies remain a blockage to government policy trying to speed up the shift to ZEVs. The report also finds that ambitious climate legislation is a key driver for road transport electrification and a requirement for decarbonization.

South Korea's Automotive Sector

In South Korea, the automobile industry accounts for 13.6% of the country’s Gross Manufacturing Product. South Korea’s automobile manufacturing scale was ranked fifth in the world in 2021 after China, the US, India and Japan, producing 3,462,499 vehicles in total. In August 2022, South Korean automaker Hyundai Motor Group was ranked 3rd in H1 (January to June 2022) global vehicles sales. 

The transport sector produced 13.7% of the country’s total GHG emissions in 2018, with  road transport  making up 95% of the entire sector’s emissions. Several policy measures to transition the road transport sector are currently under consideration in South Korea. In December 2021, then-President Moon Jae-in's government announced the Korea Zero Emissions Vehicles (ZEV) Dissemination policy, which includes provisions such as subsidies for ZEVs, charging infrastructure for ZEVs, and a gradual increase in production targets for ZEVs over internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. In South Korea, electric vehicles (EV) and hydrogen vehicles are considered to be ZEVs. 

During his election campaign in early 2022, the current President Yoon Seok-yeol pledged to set a target to phase out new registration and sales of ICE vehicles by 2035. In May 2022, President Yoon’s newly formed government announced  ‘110 Major Government Projects’ - however, the promised 2035 ICE vehicles phase out target was not included as a project. Instead, “expansion of ZEVs (EV and hydrogen vehicles)” and “promotion of setting goals for ZEVs transition by 2035” were included. In June 2022, President Yoon’s government announced a policy agenda which planned to set a goal for a transition to ZEVs by 2035, but did not explicitly commit to a date for phasing out ICE vehicles. In addition, the agenda included plans to subsidize charging costs for ZEVs and tighten GHG emissions standards for small vehicles. In July 2022, the Ministry of Environment announced a target for supplying 2 million ZEVs within President Yoon’s term (May 2022 - May 2027). 

Meanwhile, Hyundai Motor Group, the largest automobile manufacturing company in South Korea, announced plans to “build a carbon-neutral operating system by 2050”. In December 2020, the company updated its ‘Strategy 2025’ Roadmap and planned to “fully electrify its lineup in major global markets by 2040”. In May 2022, Hyundai Motor Group announced Hyundai Motor Group’s investment plan in vehicles, an approximately 47 billion USD investment plan for developing low-emission vehicles technology by 2025. However, 60% of the total investment committed will be used for improving the performance of ICE vehicles rather than developing EVs.

The Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association (KAMA) and Climate Policy Engagement


InfluenceMap’s methodology, available on our website, uses seven publicly available data sources to gather evidence of company and industry association engagement on a range of climate-related policy streams. Each item of evidence is scored against benchmarks based on the advice of IPCC science or the stated intentions of governments looking to implement the Paris Agreement. This process can result in hundreds of scored evidence items, providing a robust basis to assess the extent to which a company’s climate policy engagement, and that of its industry associations, is Paris-aligned. 

InfluenceMap has gathered evidence of the Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association (KAMA)‘s climate policy engagement. KAMA was founded in July 1988 and since then has been representing the interests of South Korean automotive industry. As of 2023, KAMA has five member companies: General Motors Korea (GM Korea), Hyundai Motor, KIA, Renault Korea Motors, and SsangYong Motor. 

InfluenceMap’s online profile of KAMA, including access to the underlying data which forms this assessment, can be found here. An overview of this assessment is provided in Table 1 below.

Table 1: Overview of InfluenceMap’s Assessment of the Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association (KAMA)

Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association (KAMA)
Performance BandEPerformance Band (A+ to F) is a full measure of a company or industry association’s climate policy engagement (in a company's case accounting for both its own engagement and that of its industry associations). A+ indicates full support for Paris-aligned climate policy, with grades from D to F indicating increasingly obstructive climate policy engagement.
Organisation Score30%Organization Score (0 to 100) expresses how supportive or obstructive the company or industry association is towards climate policy aligned with the Paris Agreement, with scores under 50 indicating “internal” misalignment between the Paris Agreement and the company’s detailed climate policy engagement.
Performance Band21%Engagement Intensity (0 to 100) is a measure of the level of policy engagement by the company or industry association, with scores above 12 indicating active engagement, and scores above 25 indicating highly active or strategic engagement.

* Score last updated 27th February 2023.

Summary of Direct Climate Policy Engagement

This section analyzes the Korea Manufacturers Association (KAMA) for its direct climate policy engagement, using InfluenceMap’s established process for assessing companies and industry associations on their climate policy influencing activities. Given that South Korea’s 2050 Carbon Neutrality target and the Green New Deal were announced in 2020, most of the evidence from Korean companies and industry associations collected by InfluenceMap dates from 2020 onwards. 

KAMA has the second lowest score (E) among South Korean corporates and industry associations that are currently assessed in InfluenceMap's Korean Corporate Climate Policy Engagement Data Platform. KAMA is actively engaged with climate policy in South Korea, and to a lesser extent with EU regulations such as the EU Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM). The association has taken negative positions on several climate policies in South Korea, including the Korea Emissions Trading Scheme (K-ETS) and a more ambitious 2030 GHG emissions reduction target as part of South Korea’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC). It has also not supported key policies around the decarbonization of the road transport sector in South Korea, including the ‘2035 Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles ban pledge’ and the Zero Emissions Vehicles (ZEV) Dissemination Policy. However, since December 2022, the new Chairman of KAMA, Kang Nam-hoon, has stated general support for expanding EV manufacturing facilities in South Korea. 

Graph 2 below displays how KAMA performs compared to 14 other South Korean industry associations assessed on the Korean Corporate Climate Policy Engagement Platform. Among 15 industry associations, KAMA has the second lowest score (E) after the Federation of Korean Industries (FKI) (E-). KAMA also has the second highest engagement intensity (21%), after the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) (24%).

Graph 2: Climate Policy Engagement Performance of the Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association (KAMA) and other South Korean Industry Associations

Hover over each circle to view additional information. Use the graph key to select entities by sector and type.

InfluenceMap’s analysis indicates active to strategic direct engagement from KAMA on specific climate regulations in 2020-2023, including:

Not supporting raised ambition for South Korea’s 2030 Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC)  target: In April 2022, the Chairman of KAMA strongly opposed the South Korean government’s NDC target to reduce national GHG emissions by 40% by 2030, arguing that it would negatively impact production activities and employment in the automotive sector. KAMA submitted a joint proposal from industry and labor to the government’s Carbon Neutrality Committee (CNC) in October 2021, stating that it did not support higher ambition for South Korea's 2030 NDC GHG emissions reduction target. 

Not supporting the need for climate regulations: At the 27th Automobile Industry Development Forum in June 2022, KAMA did not support South Korea’s carbon neutrality policy, advocating for incentive-oriented policy over regulation-oriented policy and for slowing down the pace of carbon neutrality measures. At the Organisation Internationale des Constructeurs d’Automobiles (OICA) General Assembly and Decarbonization Roundtable in November 2021, the Chairman of KAMA similarly advocated for more incentive-oriented policy supporting the South Korean automobile industry’s technology innovation, and did not support regulations on automobile manufacturing. 

Opposition to automotive-related climate regulations in South Korea: Since 2021, KAMA has directly opposed the South Korean government’s ZEV Dissemination Policy and advocated for the continued role of ICE vehicles. In an op-ed article for E-Daily in August 2022, the Chairman of KAMA advocated to abolish South Korea’s low-emission vehicle supply target system, arguing for “a more relaxed fuel economy and greenhouse gas regulation system” like in the US or Japan. In a press release in April 2022, the Chairman of KAMA advocated for the abolishment of the ZEV Dissemination Policy, arguing that “South Korea is the only country in the world that implements both fuel efficiency/GHG regulations and the ZEV Dissemination Policy.” In April 2022, the Hankyoreh quoted the Chairman of KAMA who appeared to oppose the phase-out of ICE vehicle production. 

Not supporting GHG reduction regulations for vehicles in South Korea: In a July 2022 press release, the Chairman of KAMA called to weaken GHG reduction regulations in South Korea, arguing that “regulation-based GHG emissions reduction may make it difficult for the public to respond voluntarily and creatively to environmental changes.” In a May 2022 press release, the association advocated for “reasonable adjustment” or the abolition of South Korean GHG emissions regulation of vehicles, arguing that the GHG regulation and EV sales mandates constituted “overlapping regulations”. 

Opposition to ambitious market-based policy in South Korea and the EU: KAMA has opposed government ambition on the Korea Emissions Trading Scheme (K-ETS) and the EU Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (EU CBAM). At the 27th Industrial Development Forum in August 2022, the Chairman of KAMA did not support the K-ETS in its current form, advocating for changes that would weaken the climate ambition of the policy. This included proposals to make it easier to obtain additional GHG emissions permits, and relaxing restrictions on carrying over unused emissions permits to the next period of the K-ETS. In a press release in August 2021, the association also opposed the EU Commission’s CBAM proposal, advocating for exempting South Korean automakers from the policy without calling for a corresponding strengthening of domestic carbon pricing in South Korea.

Corporate Membership in the Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association (KAMA)

The Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association (KAMA) counts five automobile companies as its members: General Motors Korea (GM Korea), Hyundai Motor, KIA, Renault Korea Motors and SsangYong Motor. InfluenceMap currently analyzes the climate policy engagement of General Motors (GM), Hyundai Motor Group companies (Hyundai Motor and KIA), and Renault, which have been actively engaged with climate policy in various countries globally. InfluenceMap’s profiles for these companies aggregate their climate policy engagement globally, including the policy engagement of subsidiaries (Hyundai Motor and KIA for the Hyundai Motor Group, GM Korea for GM, and Renault Korea Motors for Renault).

Table 2 below gives an overview of the climate policy engagement of KAMA’s member companies. InfluenceMap’s analysis finds that KAMA’s climate policy engagement is far more negative than that of its member companies’ policy engagement globally. Detailed profiles, including access to the underlying data which forms this assessment, for each company can be explored by clicking on their name in the table below.

Table 2: Global Climate Policy Scores of the Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association (KAMA) Members' Parent Companies

Company/Industry AssociationInfluenceMap Score (A-F)Organization ScoreRelationship ScoreEngagement Intensity
SsangYong MotorNot yet scored by InfluenceMap

* Hyundai Motor Group owns Hyundai Motor and KIA, and the two corporates are scored under ‘Hyundai Motor Group’ on InfluenceMap’s system.

* Scores last updated 27th February 2023.

Among KAMA’s corporate members, GM Korea and Renault Korea Motors appear not to have directly engaged with South Korean climate policy. In contrast, their parent companies have actively engaged with climate policy in other regions. Hyundai Motor Group also has limited engagement with climate policy in South Korea, although it has presented some positions on the South Korean energy mix transition, such as hydrogen, LNG, and ICE vehicles phase-out.

The lack of active direct policy engagement in South Korea from corporates suggests that KAMA is the strongest representative voice of the automotive sector in South Korea when it comes to climate policy. However, InfluenceMap’s analysis shows that KAMA is misaligned with its member companies on several climate policy issues when looking at the companies’ global activities, including national 2050 and 2030 climate targets in respective headquartered countries, zero emissions vehicles (ZEV) mandates, and the phaseout of ICE vehicles (see Table 3). More detailed evidence of the entities’ climate policy engagement on these key issues can be found in Appendix B.

Table 3: Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association (KAMA) and its Members' Parent Companies Compared on their Global Climate Policy Positions

Company/Industry AssociationInfluenceMap Score (A-F)2050 climate targets2030 climate targetsZEV mandateICE vehicles phase-out

Hyundai Motor's Direct Policy Engagement

Hyundai Motor Group is the largest automaker in South Korea, producing 88% of all vehicles in the country in 2021. Meanwhile, General Motors Korea (GM Korea) and Renault Korea Motors have a combined share of around 8% of vehicles production (see Chart 1). Hyundai Motor Group subsidiaries Hyundai Motor and KIA are two of the five members of KAMA, suggesting that they are key members of the association.

Chart 1 : Market Share of the Top Six Automakers in South Korea in 2021

Hyundai Motor Group scores a D+ on InfluenceMap’s system, indicating misalignment with the goals of the Paris Agreement, but still more positive than the climate policy positions taken by KAMA. In particular, since 2020, Hyundai Motor Group has demonstrated top-line support for climate policy and action in South Korea and globally. However, it displays more mixed positions on specific policies such as the Korea Emissions Trading Scheme (K-ETS) and South Korea’s energy transition away from fossil fuels and internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles:

Supporting the need for climate policy: Hyundai Motor Group has supported ambitious climate action in line with IPCC guidance. At the B20 Summit Indonesia 2022 in November 2022, the Chairman of Hyundai Motor Group stated support for strong policy that would stimulate corporates’ investment in “new resources and technologies to achieve carbon neutrality” from different countries, including South Korea. At an environmental policy meeting with the Ministry of Environment (MoE) in February 2021, the CEO of Hyundai Motor suggested, together with other corporate representatives, the need for certain forms of government policy for emissions reduction, such as R&D support and investment tax credits.

No clear position on the revision of the Korea Emissions Trading Scheme (K-ETS): In response to the 2021 CDP Climate Change Information Request, Hyundai Motor disclosed that it was engaging with the K-ETS, without presenting its position on the policy.

Mixed positions on decarbonization of transport sector: Hyundai Motor Group has shown mixed support for various national regulations on decarbonizing the road transport sector, including ICE) vehicles phase-out. In May 2022, Meconomy News quoted an official of Hyundai Motor as advocating  for continuing the usage of ICE vehicles until 2040. Hyundai Motor also appeared to strongly oppose an EV mandate included in New Zealand’s proposed Clean Car Bill in a November 2021 consultation response. However, Hyundai Motor appeared to support California’s proposed Advanced Clean Cars II Regulation in May 2022, which would increase the proportion of EVs until a 100% ZEV mandate in 2035.

Mixed positions on the South Korean energy mix: Hyundai Motor Group has been supportive of the usage of hydrogen in South Korea’s energy mix, but also appears to support some continued use of fossil gas. At a meeting with the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MoTIE) in July 2022, Hyundai Motor stated support for government investment in ‘clean’ hydrogen expansion and hydrogen charging stations for vehicles. At the May 2022 World Gas Conference, the Vice President of Hyundai Motor supported green hydrogen, calling for securing the “hydrogen electric chain network and hydrogen charging stations” to achieve the global carbon neutrality target. In July 2022, Hyundai Motor’s plan to establish LNG power plants in Ulsan Metropolitan City was withdrawn by the company after public pressure, although it stated that GHG emissions would be reduced by “improving the efficiency of existing electricity and steam production” from the LNG power plants. 

Unclear position on the GHG emissions reduction target of South Korea’s 2030 Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) and the Zero Emissions Vehicles (ZEV) Dissemination Policy: Hyundai Motor Group did not publicly disclose any positions for South Korea's 2030 NDC GHG emissions reduction target and the ZEV Policy, which were both opposed by KAMA.