Korea Takes Lead in Green Growth, Tackling Climate Change while Driving Economy
The team at 1minutetosavetheworld have published a blog documenting the follow-up from South Korea’s Lee Myung-bak administration last year setting an ambitious goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent below “business-as-usual” projections through 2020 under its low-carbon, green growth vision.
Shin Hyon-hee documents in the Korea Herald that the voluntary target, announced on the sidelines of United Nations climate talks in Copenhagen last December, is deemed very challenging regarding Korea’s fastest emissions growth rate among OECD countries.
Korea is the world’s ninth-largest polluter. Its growing economy has seen carbon dioxide emissions rise by more than 100 percent over the last two decades.
The government has devised a five-year plan under which the country will invest 2 percent of gross domestic product annually into research and development on new green infrastructure.
Continued, as excerpted from the Korea Herald:
President Lee signed the Basic Act on Low Carbon Green Growth that mandates the government to establish a national strategy for green growth and set national and corporate targets for carbon emissions.
Early this year, the Presidential Committee on Green Growth unveiled an expanded framework to meet the target. It consists of a carbon trading legislation, tax incentives for energy saving and clean technologies.
The Ministry of Environment is drafting a national carbon emission trading scheme along with the committee, planning to submit a related bill to the National Assembly this year and implement the system in 2011.
Under the system, the government imposes emissions caps on companies and organizations, and those that succeed in cutting emissions below their quotas are allowed to sell the remaining allowance.
The World Bank valued the global carbon market at $144 billion last year, up 6 percent from 2008 despite an economic slowdown. The figure is projected to rise to $170 billion this year.
Some provincial governments already test-launched their own emission exchange. Companies and public institutions are participating in the program in a bid to enhance their environment-friendly credentials.
As part of the green initiatives, the government is planning to tighten environmental regulations on new buildings and automobiles, and provide low-rate loans for eco-friendly housing.
It will raise tax rates for homeowners consuming excessive amount of energy, and cut acquisition and registration taxes for energy-efficient houses by 5-15 percent. Public facilities will be required to lower energy consumption by 10 percent.
The Ministry of Public Administration and Security is planning to subsidize local administrative units to cut taxes on hybrid vehicles. The standard for vehicle taxes will be changed from the current engine displacement to fuel efficiency or carbon emissions.
The presidential committee introduced 10 green technologies to develop, including carbon capture and sequestration, a method of seizing carbon dioxide from the exhaust gases of power plants and storing it underground.
A smart grid system is another innovation to save electricity use. It enables homes and factories to use electricity during off-peak hours through a two-way communication between power suppliers and consumers. Korea established a major test bed facility for the system on Jeju Island last year.
Other selected technologies include next generation rechargeable batteries, light emitting diodes, green personal computers, high-efficiency solar batteries, green cars, advanced light-water nuclear reactors, fuel cells, and high-tech water treatment systems.
The Ministry of Knowledge Economy said new products in five selected areas green transportation, smart grid, non-memory chips, high-efficiency thin-film solar cells and natural pharmaceutical products will create a 105 trillion won ($94 billion) market for the country in 2020.
It also announced a plan to invest 40 trillion won last month into solar, wind and fuel cell ventures until 2015, seeking to join the world’s top five countries in the sector.
The ministry estimated that the investment will create 110,000 jobs and lift the country’s renewable energy exports to more than $36 billion.
Through the five-year plan, it aims to capture 15 percent share of the global market worth $162 billion in 2009. It said the size will increase to $400 billion by 2015 considering 28.2 percent of the current annual growth rate.
Korean businesses are actively expanding their clean-tech investment.
A consortium led by state-owned Korea Electric Power Corp. won a $40 billion nuclear power contract with the United Arab Emirates in Dec. 2009.
Korean electric cars such as BlueOn of Hyundai Motor and Lacetti Premiere EV of GM Daewoo are tapping global markets.
In 2020 alone, the country expects to be able to sell about 1 million electric vehicles with some 700,000 of those overseas, generating 40 trillion won in sales, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy said.
The government also established the Global Green Growth Institute in June, aiming to map out sustainable economic strategy and policy, and support environmental efforts in developing countries such as Indonesia, Brazil and Ethiopia.
Korea will fund about $10 million a year by 2012 for the institute, headed by former Prime Minister Han Seung-soo. The organization will seek additional financing from foreign governments and foundations.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed his confidence about the future role of the green growth institute, saying it will “significantly contribute to a variety of the U.N.’s activities regarding climate change.”