Energy and Climate Policy Institute

작성일 : 12-12-31 15:40
Enerzine No 26. UN COP 18 bogged down with a swamp and the Green Climate Fund
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1. Issues

                The Korean presidential elections that ended with the return of the conservatives
                      - The Lee Government’s Green Growth Policy will be continued -

Unlike Korea’s past presidential elections with their big policy issues, the country’s 18th presidential elections were riddled with the unified candidate from the opposition party and the showdown of the Conservative and Liberal forces. With today’s climate and energy issues, however, the Liberal candidate, Moon Jae-in of the Democratic United Party (although he was less active in civil society) proposed phase out nuclear as one of his pledges, and even the Conservative candidate, Park Geun-hye of the Saenuri Party that traditionally supported the nuclear policy, included the re-examination of the nuclear power plant and safety fortification policy in her public pledges, which showed a major step forward from the past elections. This seems to be the political reaction to the heightened anxiety of the Korean people for nuclear power plants caused by the impact of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant accident in Japan, the concealment of the Gori Nuclear Power Plant accident in Korea, and the corruption that involved the nuclear power plant components.

President-elect Park Geun-hye proposed 10 practical tasks and 26 promises in 7 areas, including on the aging nuclear power plant safety policy, the establishment of South Korea as a renewable energy country, the reconstruction of the greenhouse gas target management and emission trading scheme, the establishment of the South and North renewable energy community, and the realization of warm energy welfare without energy poverty. Park mentioned the major issues in the climate and energy fields in her pledges, but her pledges were adjudged to be merely extensions of the former government’s green growth policy framework, which centered on the development of nuclear power and on offshore gas and oil development. There is much interest, however, in how the differentiated energy policy will be implemented for the fortification of the safety of nuclear power plants, the expansion of renewable energy, and the South and North Korean energy cooperation. Meanwhile, Park is expected to form the transition committee within the year and to announce the specifics of the national tasks, including in the climate and energy fields, at around the time of her inauguration in February 2013.

Written by Kang-jun, Lee (Researcher :

    2. Opinion
                                  UN COP 18 bogged down with a swamp and the Green Climate Fund

The 18th UNFCCC COP that was hosted by Doha, Qatar has ended. As expected, the deadlock was not broken, and the conference ended without a positive result. Few media organizations in South Korea covered the two-week marathon negotiations in a major way, which may have been the natural result of the press intuition on the general skepticism on the substance and form of the meeting, which surged before and after the 17th COP in Durban, South Africa. The fact that there are people who are shouting “Climate Justice!” in Middle Eastern countries, which greatly depend on petrol and gas, is the only comfort.

The result of the meeting, however, which is the extension until 2020 of the Kyoto Protocol--the only accredited tool for greenhouse gas reduction--is no comfort because it cannot be denied that even if the Kyoto Protocol, which will end on December 31, 2012, is extended, it will still be at a standstill. In addition, the USA, Canada, New Zealand, Russia, etc. have withdrawn from the Kyoto Protocol, which limits greenhouse gas emissions to only 15% worldwide. Moreover, even the decision on the extent to which the 15% limit will be reduced will seemingly be delayed. This protocol will inevitably be unable to function.

It will be recalled that greenhouse gas emissions already increased by 50% from 1990, The warning of scientists that reducing greenhouse gas emissions at the current rate would hardly keep the temperature rise below 2℃ and that the temperature will increase by 4-5℃ have been the only positive notes on the negotiation table. At least the peak has to be passed before the 2020 emissions, so this negotiation approach of formulating a new protocol with more participating countries from 2020 is incurring a great loss by pursuing a small profit.

How about the Green Climate Fund that has attracted much interest? South Korea officially established the GCF executive office in Incheon. Even though the country is excited with the baseless expected trickle-down effect of the 380 billion won economic ripple effect of its hosting of the GSF office, there is a foreshadow of the reduction of the funds to 100 billion US dollars until 2020.

Developed countries should ensure sufficient funds and support for developing and least developed countries that need to respond fast to climate change. Needless to say, a precursor of the Green Climate Fund, the 2010-2013 Emergency Finance, did not even reach USD 30 billion. Why would the island countries that are on the frontier of climate change request for the stipulation of legal liability for loss and damage by pushing the compensation and reparation concepts up to the surface? Advanced countries such as the U.S., however, vehemently opposed the request and held fast to the concept of aid. Eventually, as a compromise, the contents of the additional discussions remained in the final document, but it is questionable if the discussions would progress at this time when the prospects of the Green Climate Fund are gloomy. When the developing countries that were apprehensive about the improper performance of the Green Climate Fund requested USD 60 billion funds for 2013-2015, didn’t the advanced countries passively defend the request by saying they would try to provide the aid at a level similar to that of the Emergency Finance?

As I watched the negotiation process in the Doha Climate Change Conference in Korea, it seemed like I was watching Korean society. The said process was the same as that of the presidential elections that was held a week later in Korea. The environment field was excluded from the discussion topics for the presidential debate on TV. If climate change is still a distant issue in Korea, isn’t it proper to at least discuss the 4 Rivers Civil Works and the nuclear power issue instead? I became certain of one thing after I followed the presidential campaign, though. There was no presidential candidate or party that was “prepared” for climate change in Korea.

Written by Jung-pil, Lee (Researcher:
  3. New Report

          A Study on the Sociopolitical Scenario for Energy Transition to Nuclear Phase-out in South Korea

ECPI Korea published <A Study on the Sociopolitical Scenario for Energy Transition to Nuclear Phase-out> supported by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung(Korea Office). The report’s main substance is below.

It is a time that subjective and objective conditions have been established to discuss specific process of energy transition to nuclear phase-out since the Fukushima accident. Now, it is crucial to open a window to social imaginations at dead end by reviewing the possibility for nuclear phase-out and proposing methods and paths of achieving this. In this respect, the purpose of the study is to investigate the sociopolitical scenario for energy transition to nuclear phase-out.

The purpose of the technical/economic scenario is to achieve which energy demand and energy mix are (may be achieved) at the target point we desire and to seek out possible path to the energy transition by utilizing technical, economic or political methods but the political and social scenario closely related but with different features focuses on how we start the energy transition to nuclear phase-out, as well as political and social cleavage structures and the process required for the sustainment.

This study may find out certain answers to these questions and the main contents are as follows. First, it is required to focus on emerging alternative scenarios against technical and economic scenario of the energy dominated by the government. This 'politics of expertise' is going to more frequently and briskly emerged in the 'politics of nuclear phase-out.' Next, the study formalized path dependency on nuclear development and features in path transitions in major foreign countries. In particular, the study found out suggestions to Korea by specifically tracing the nuclear phase-out process which Germany has experienced for a long time. The energy, economic, political and social factors discovered from the phase-out process in Germany provide abundant examples despite considering difference between the two countries.

The key contents of the study is to analyze cleavage structures surrounding the nuclear development in Korea and establish sociopolitical scenario for energy transition. The analysis of altered cleavage structure in political society, economic society, civil society, media and academic society around the Fukushima accident showed that Korea is a 'closed society' to the energy transition but seems to open 'a window of opportunity'. Still, it is blocked by the strong 'nuclear cartel'. However, the cleavage in the political society has become wider since the accident and the academic and the civil societies started active movement towards the nuclear phase-out. The nuclear phase-out alliance in the economic society is relatively weak. Even worse, the atomic industry gets stronger and the new and renewable energy industry grown at a slow pace has been submerged by conglomerates.

This study insists that the nuclear phase-out alliance shall introduce various systematic and social strategies to grow further while focusing on objective conditions of the energy transition to nuclear phase-out. The Korean society needs to take multilateral and multilayered strategies to shift the path because the concept of nuclear phase-out is in the stage of establishing political agenda. However, the effects from each strategy are expected to be different and improving legislation/institutions and nuclear phase-out election are going to have high impact in the systematic strategies but national/residential referendum and legal processing are going to have mid or low impacts. Public/local movements and energy transition experiments/alternative scenarios take a large portion in the social strategies because this is the stepping stone for the nuclear phase-out alliance. Here, sufficient supports from various classes are achieved by establishing alliance structures in the economic society to improve the renewable energies and energy efficiency. However, it is fact that the strategies which have been considered highly effective fail show the anti-nuclear activities or to maximize the effects. It is more important to find out where the nuclear phase-out alliance shall take in 2013 even though the nuclear phase-out formally became political agenda in the election process in 2012.

Lastly, the study proposes political and social scenarios from three aspects which dismantles the pro-nuclear alliance and strengthens the anti-nuclear alliance. First, the physical foundation for the nuclear cartel shall be demolished to break up the pro-nuclear alliance. Second, the Green Party or progressive parties shall be grown enough to lead the Democratic United Party which reluctantly supports nuclear phase-out activities for the political alliance. Third, the green social economy shall take more portion in the social and the economic sector based on the renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Written by Jung-pil, Lee (Researcher:

4. Act on

                                                          Mekong’s Future, Our Future

I had participated in the meeting “Mekong’s Future, Our Future: Strengthening East-Asia Civil Society Network to Monitor Mekong River Basin Development” hosted by Mekong Watch in Tokyo during Dec. 12 to 15, 2012. Mekong Watch is Tokyo-based NGO focusing on the environmental and social problems resulting from various developmental projects in the Mekong region. It has been concerned about the role of Japan’s ODA in the Mekong region and its activities include research, information production and distribution, and advocacy for affected communities under various developing initiatives from oversea donors.

The meeting aimed to strengthen civil society network to work toward responding to environmental, social, and development challenges facing the Mekong Basin. The conference was composed of international workshop, strategy discussions, policy dialogue with Japanese government officials, and public seminar. During the meeting, participants could share the information on what happens in the region and how to understand, response, and raise the awareness of the direct stakeholder & citizens of donors’ countries. As china and Korea are rapidly expanding ODA and private investments into Mekong development recently, the civil society of two countries have been requested more concerns and additional interventions on Mekong issues. Beside me, 3 more persons of Korean civil society (EPCI and ODA Watch Korea) were invited and shared the perspectives on ODA of Korean government and private investments toward Mekong regions.

 More than 60 million people depends their lives on natural resource of Mekong River, however regional integration and huge development funded by oversea donors and IFI like an ADB are damaging the natural environment and threatening local communities’ livelihoods. Though people in the basin are facing the nested challenges and problems from large-scale developments, they didn’t proper opportunities to influence decision-making processes which have affected their lives. Various efforts of civil society inside and outside Mekong have tried to address these issues, but their capacities have limited yet. In the meeting, participants composing of activists from CSOs, academics and journalists from Mekong countries and East Asian donor countries had communicated existing situations of each position and identified strategies to activate negotiated responses among civil society network.

Written by Eom, Eunhui (Research Fellow, SNU Asia Center:


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