Do you know the meaning of 'Green Growth'? 'Green growth' is to boost the economy by investing in green industries. 'Green' becomes a main phrase of policy all over the world. 'Green New Deal' is another policy including the word 'Green'. It is an ambitious policy of the Lee Myung-bak administration. Lee said that we could get two advantages through his 'Green New Deal'. First, we protect the environment. Second, we solve the worsening unemployment problem with new jobs. However, opposition confronts the policy. Objectors against the 'Green New Deal' insist that it is designed to boost construction and engineering firms, not green industry.
Actually, Lee's 'Green New Deal' invests more in the engineering and construction industry rather than in the renewable energy industry. There are nine projects suggested by the government listed below.
'Green New Deal' project
1. River improvement
2. Build eco-friendly transportation networks
3. Advanced information infrastructure
4. Water resources & dam construction
5. Green cars & clean energy development
6. Resources recycling
7. Forest biomass
8. Energy-saving homes & other structures
9. Eco-friendly living spaces
Among the nine projects above, the first and second projects are related to the construction and engineering industry. The budgets allocated to those projects are 18 trillion won and 11 trillion won, respectively. These budgets account for 58% of the total budget, or 50 trillion won. On the other hand, the budget for green industry, such as development of renewable energy, is too little. Therefore, 'Green Growth' is losing its original meaning of obtaining economic growth by environment-friendly industry. It also loses its benefit of increasing jobs because the construction and engineering industry only generate low-paying and temporary jobs. It cannot be deemed smart in the end.
While Lee's 'Green New Deal' is missing its original aim of 'Green Growth', a neighboring country, Japan has already achieved considerable development in 'Green Growth' by investing in renewable energy. Prime Minister Aso promised to invest more than 30 trillion yen in the renewable energy market for the next five years. We do not have time to waste. The Lee administration should invest in green industries to achieve the real 'Green Growth'.
Way to low carbon index society
Korea is the world's ninth-largest emitter of carbon dioxide. It is expected that mandatory reductions of co2 emissions will be imposed in the 2013 Post-Kyoto protocol. The Lee Myung-bak administration unveiled the bill scheme for 'low carbon growth' and we expected to lower green house gas emissions. The bill set an aim for lowering carbon, encouraging the low carbon-based lifestyle. The whole nation has been much too dependent on carbon's benefit for several decades to discard it. Any product, from cars to clothes, could not be made without CO2 emissions. However, we have to escape from the carbon-based life to wipe off a dishonor as the world's ninth-largest CO2 emitter.
To achieve the 'low carbon society', the government should take a strong leadership to promote a national awareness about hazardous risk of climate change, drawing a national cooperativeness for low carbon emissions. The Korean government seemed to be on the right course to draw a high level of national awareness about a 'low carbon society'. The introduction of the 'Carbon Grade Sheet' system, which operated by way of showing an example last July, proves it. The Ministry of Environment introduced it on a small scale to test the influence, which 'Carbon Grade Sheet system' has on consumers. Under the 'Carbon Grade Sheet' system, products should be attached with a label, the so-called 'Carbon Grade Sheet' that shows the amount of 'green house gas' emitted during its production. Therefore, consumers can select the product made through low carbon process by checking the label. The 'Carbon Grade Sheet' system is close to people' life, so it was efficient to promote a national awareness about low carbon. The Ministry of Environment plans to extend the scale of the system. The Ministry expects that a national awareness about the importance of low carbon can be promoted by urging people to purchase 'low carbon products'.
Here is another system, the so-called 'Carbon Mileage' system. It is similar to the 'Carbon Grade Sheet' system in that it is close to people's life and urges them to practice the 'low carbon life'.
The 'Carbon Mileage' system operated by the rule that participants in this system take one point (500won~1000won) when he decreases carbon dioxide emission by 10kg. When the reserve reaches to some extent, it can be used to charge a traffic card or it can be provided as a form of token. The carbon mileage program was first launched in the Gangnam District in March 2008. Last year, greenhouse gas emissions in the area declined 1,400 tons. All 25 districts in Seoul are participating in now. The government plans to introduce it across the country.
By these systems, we hope that Korea will be the first nation who achieves the low carbon society.
Do you want to participate in 'Carbon Mileage'?
-Drop by your district homepage (if you live in Seoul) and sign up in the 'e-energy accounting book'
-Carbon mileage points will be issued for greenhouse gas reduction that you make in comparison to that of the previous year based on your energy reports.
Follow these tips and take incentive benefits by 'Carbon Mileage'
-Remember to turn off the lights every time you leave a room
-Use compact fluorescent light bulbs to reduce the amount of fossil fuels
-Maintain the appropriate temperature by turning off the heat or air conditioning
-Conserve water by turning the faucet off when you brush your teeth and by making shower time shorter
-Check the product energy efficiency when you buy electric home appliances
-Don't overfill your refrigerator to prevent its compressor from working harder
All about D.S.T
The Korean government unveiled the scheme for adopting DST (Daylight Saving Time). DST, well known by another name, 'summer-time' in Korea, is the convention of advancing clocks so that afternoons have more daylight and mornings have less. Typically, clocks are adjusted forward an hour from start of spring to autumn. Therefore, you would go school and come back home one hour earlier than usual. DST is in operation in all of the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) member countries, except Korea, Japan and Iceland. The Korean government took a step to introduce DST. However, it is expected to take long time. Worries about unintended consequences from operation of DST make the government delay the promoting of it. What are the benefits suggested by DST supporters? What are the negative opinions suggested by those who are against DST? In addition, what should the government do?
One of the benefits we can expect is that we can save energy. Many countries introduced it for saving energy. It allows us to use less energy in lighting our homes by taking advantage of the longer daylight hours. The Korea Energy Economics Institute expects that energy consumption will decrease by 0.3%, worth about 86 billion won if Korea is in operation of DST from April to September. So, it is expected as one of the ways to survive in times of soaring prices of energy when the price of oil reached $100 per barrel. The energy saving effect can also help the nation achieve the goal of reducing its green house gas emissions.
Another benefit we can expect is that DST can inject fresh air into the sluggish economy. DST allows people have an extra hour in daylight. Therefore, there will be revitalization of tourism, leisure, retailing and other service-related industries.
These two benefits suggested by DST supporters are based on estimated figures. Therefore, those who are against introduction of DST insist that estimated figures suggested by supporters are a baseless guess. They oppose DST because employers might abuse it to force employees to work longer. According to them, although employees who start their work an hour earlier by the clock of DST, their office leaving hour would be set by the original time, not the DST time. They also cite difficulties in adjusting themselves to advanced working hours and changed way of living.
There have been several trials to adopt DST before and all of them ended without any advance. This time, we hope that the government should make efforts to make progress in the argument.
Diplomatic Tasks to secure the energy supplies
Is it shocking that countries in Europe suffered from dwindling energy supplies in the depth of winter? Russia had once stopped all gas supplies to Europe during its standoff with Ukraine. More than 97 percent of Korea's energy resources come across the seas. Thus, South Korea would suffer by energy supply disruptions like recent event in Europe, if supplying countries stopped supplying energy sources. To prevent the danger, Korea should strengthen its energy diplomacy.
What are the diplomatic assignments to do to increase the security of energy supplies?
Seek new energy alliances
Korea should seek new energy alliances. Korea has gained the huge amount of energy sources from very few supplying regions. Most of the oil has come from the Middle East. Oil imported from the Middle East alone accounted for 86.3 percent of the total in 2008. LNG imported from three countries (Qatar, Oman and Malaysia) accounted for 79.6 percent of the whole. And bituminous coal imported from two countries (Australia and Canada) accounted for almost 82 percent of the total. If one of these regions stops energy supply, Korea will lose a substantial amount of energy resources. We have already suffered by because of the tremendous bad effect of supply disruptions. Tension in the Middle East and the wave of so-called 'energy nationalism' caused several supply disruptions to hit the whole world. Many countries suffered great losses of oil supply during the so-called 'oilshocks'. Korea was no exception in those shocks. On the first hit of oilshock, caused by the Middle East, the Korean economy saw its inflation soar to 24.8% in 1974 from 3.5% and its economic growth plunge to 7.4% from 12.3% during the same period. The second oil shock, caused by OPEC's energy nationalism and Iran's stop of gas supply, also shook the Korean economy severely. How damaging will it be to Korea if energy nationalism happens again? Although we have already suffered from oilshocks, there was no advance in energy security. We still largely depend on the Middle East's oil, leaving our energy supply highly susceptible to political or economic fluctuations in the Persian Gulf region. It accounted for 86.3 percent of the total oil imports in 2008. We should decentralize the energy-supplying region to scatter the danger of supply disruption. The Whole world continues their effort to seek new sources of supply. The Korean government also should continue the diplomatic efforts to diversify its energy supplies. Minister Han Seung-soo took a trip to Central Asian nations last December to seek new energy alliances to diversify energy supplies. We hope Han's effort will produce a beneficial outcome.
Stop selfish diplomacy
When the resource nationalism swept down on whole world, global efforts to seek new stable energy alliances are fierce. As Central Asia and Africa are thought of as resource-rich countries newly, the whole world starts to make an effort to keep close ties with them. It is like a race. Those who succeed in making deeper ties with Central Asia and Africa can get a new, stable resource supply. Do you think Korea will be a winner in the race? Unfortunately, it seems that Korea does not have the competitiveness in this race. On his visit to Korea in 2007, Sultanov, a head of a Kazakhstan research institute directly responsible to the President, said that Korea's diplomacy has been only focused on requesting energy resources. He advised the Korean government to consider the counterpart's benefit to make a tie with Central Asia. Despite his advice, nothing has changed in Korea's selfish attitude, only demand and no giving. Recently, Korean companies have extended their workplace abroad. However, they keep avoiding the responsibilities for harmful effect of their development work. For example, one company who participates in the exploration for petroleum in Central Asia just kept seeing the sea polluted by harmful exhaust emissions from their work without any step to take. The sea creatures died and the company lost their trust. Such selfish and irresponsible behavior makes Korea lose its attraction when the new resource-rich countries choose to whom they give their resources. Korea should guarantee the counterparts benefits and make sure that the tie with Korea will heavily benefit them. One of the ways is to share our ample experience in economic development and cutting-edge technologies that are much needed by them.
We hope that Korea solves these diplomatic assignments and increases the security of energy supplies.
Energy source for hope
The IMF forecasted the rate of economic growth in Korea would be the lowest among twenty primary countries. Korea faces an economic hardship again. We already had overcome difficulties of the poor 70's and the IMF crisis. However, Korea's national competitiveness ranked 13 in the world at the end of the hardship. Whenever Koreans went through economic hardship, one of the energy sources fueling hope is the sports star's good performance in international competitions.
When Hong Soo-hwan became a world champion of WBA (World Boxing Association) in our poor 70's, and Park Se-ri became a winner of LPGA in the IMF crisis, their winning soothed the nation and inspired courage. The nation was caught with excitement by Hong's one phrase,' Mom, I got champion!' and Park's winning earned from her fighting spirit of barefoot. They were energy sources fueling hope.
These energy sources appear again in the depth of financial crisis. This time, the hope energy is figure skater, Kim Yu-na. Her successive winnings in international competitions caught people in front of the TV. The watching rate of her free skating program accounted for 23.5%, a top in that time. KBS televised a program named '2009 Hope of the Nation, Fighting Korea! Kim Yu-na special’, on the first day of the New Year. Her soaring popularity reminds us that whenever Korea suffered from financial crisis, the nation overcame the difficulties with 'hope energy' taken from sports stars. < 저작권자 © 중앙헤럴드 무단전재 및 재배포금지 >
We hope that Korea will overcome the economic downturn again with it.