Energy and Climate Policy Institute

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ENERZINE NO.1(2009.9.28)
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   Enerzine1.pdf (192.2K) [18] DATE : 2009-10-08 17:19:15
ENERZINE NO.1(2009.9.28)

Ⅰ. Issues

• Lee Myung-Bak government’s ‘Green Growth Strategy’ is far from a Green Policy

Officials of the incumbent Lee Myung-Bak government in Korea have made a show of their strong desire to adopt a series of green strategies for sustainable economic growth and social development, and to tout the resources available for carrying out such plans. However, the majority of Korean civil society and NGOs remain skeptical, if not outright Critical, of this government Propaganda. This is mainly because the government has yet to come up with any substantial strategies for transforming the existing economic system to support a low carbon society and achieve climate justice. Instead, the Lee government has wasted precious time and resources to maximize its political image through lip service, not only domestically, but internationally as well.

Mr. Lee has announced a series of what he calls ‘green growth’ strategies. In early 2009, when he announced a plan called the ‘Green New Deal,’ he pledged to create more than 960,000 jobs by investing roughly 50,000 billion won ($42.2 billion US) over the next 4 years. Unfortunately, the plan did not include a feasible strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, nor a plan for helping Korean society deal with climate change. As such, most NGO activists (Environmental activists) with environmental concerns are increasingly worried about the plan’s negative consequences. The most serious problem is the government’s plan to build a series of dams and levees in Korea’s four major rivers, as well as 11 more nuclear power units across the country. These developments will certainly have devastating effects on local communities and their surrounding environments.

Meanwhile, there is no concrete roadmap for decarburizing industry or expanding the use of renewable energy in Korea. Government efforts have not gone beyond investment into the research, development, and marketing of new and profitable technologies, regardless of their environmental impact. For these reasons, most Korean NGOs and environmentalists continue to criticize the government’s program and raise international awareness of the fact that the government’s program has nothing to do with genuine green policy, and in fact is likely to have ominous consequences.

• The Korean government’s greenhouse gas emission reduction strategy: Too much or too little?

On August 4, 2009, the Korean government announced a plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. At first sight, the plan seemed to be progressive and desirable. As it turns out, this plan is both naïve and conservative in nature.

The Korean government provided three different reduction scenarios, based on three different estimated targets for reduction by the end of 2020, namely 21, 27, and 30 percent, relative to BAU (business as usual). However, even if we apply the best case scenario of a 30 percent reduction, this would only mean a meager 4 percent reduction in greenhouse gas levels from 2005, whereas the first two reduction targets would be tantamount to an increase of more than 8 percent in emissions. Moreover, since Korea has substantially increased its greenhouse gas emissions over the last 10 years, even if we choose 1990 as the basis year, all of the three emission targets would mean doubling rather than reducing emissions.

In addition, there are no legitimate grounds for basing reduction targets on BAU. Korean environmentalists and progressive politicians suspect that basing targets on BAU was a government tactic to avoid further international pressure to reduce emissions. Whatever the case, Korea is currently ranked 9th in terms of greenhouse gas emission and its accumulative emission rate has made Korea the 21st biggest producer of greenhouse gas in the world.

In a meeting convened on September 7, 2009, NGO activists and civil society leaders in Korea adopted a resolution urging the Lee government to provide a new, more reasonable target as a responsible member of the international community. These NGOs, including the Energy and Climate Policy Institute for Just Transition (ECPI) have suggested that the government set the target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25% from their 2005 level, by the end of 2020. The resolution also demanded that the government adopt a series of realistic programs through which to achieve this goal, and move beyond rhetoric to become an ‘early mover.’

Ⅱ. Opinion

Arrogance of major oversea environmental organizations

On the 26th of August, in an open letter which sent to President Lee, Greenpeace, the WWF and Oxfam commented that "your personal commitment to a low carbon, green growth vision has been crucial in showing other world leaders how government can combine the triple goals of economic development, energy security, and climate protection."

The above intervention could be regarded as a clumsy one, as it seems to overlook the real point of "low carbon, green growth." The major focus of "low carbon, green growth" is to increase the nuclear power generation rate to 60% from the current 40%, in response to climate change, and to create a concrete water route similar to a canal through an investment of 22 trillion won by 2012.

The South Korean Government persists this is all part of its "climate change countermeasure" program. Without confirming the specific contents of the plan, Greenpeace, the WWF and Oxfam have shown support for an initiative that most Korean environmental organizations oppose.

In addition, these three organizations have asked for reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of only 20% by 2020, in contrast to domestic environmental organizations’ goal of 25%. Even though these international organizations may have "good intentions," their focus on the ”politics of influence” must be criticized.

The Energy and Climate Policy Institute for Just Transition (ECPI) is a research institute attached to the Center for Energy Politics (CEP), an NGO aiming to make energy politics, currently dominated by the cartel of capital and the powerful, more democratic and focused on social justice. The three core values of the CEP are "creativity," "voluntarism," and "solidarity."

Ⅲ. Act on

1) ECPI founding and international symposium more
2) Civil society organization held discussion of green house gas reduction target : On September 25, 2009, civil society organization and major politic parties held a discussion about reduction goal of greenhouse gas. Civil society organizations including CEP/ECPI asked 25% reduction by 2020, compared to2005.
3) ECPI COP15 Plan :
ECPI will hold a side event with subject "climate change and green jobs".
—Title : The critics against the the 'Green Growth' policy of Korean government and the Strategy and the Strategy for trade unions and civil society
—Post Organization : Energy & Climate Policy Institute(ECPI) in Korea
—Supporting Partner : ITUC
—Site : LO Denmark Building (WOW pavilion)


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