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[Editorial] Gov`t Hypocrisy in Environmental Policy

Posted May. 15, 2009 08:02,   


Ministries and state-run corporations buy dozens of vehicles every year, but shun environment-friendly hybrids or diesel cars.

According to a survey by the Metropolitan Air Quality Management Office, just 40 of 127 government organizations and state-run corporations that purchased vehicles last year met the requirement that at least 20 percent of new cars purchased be low-emission vehicles. Ansan and Pyeongtaek in Gyeonggi Province each bought 29 vehicles last year, but none of them were of low emission despite the government`s campaign for “low-carbon, green economic growth.”

The government cannot persuade the public to buy eco-friendly cars if it does not set an example. Few Korean-built hybrid cars exist for consumers to choose from and higher quality is needed. The government should take the initiative in expanding demand for eco-friendly cars despite inconveniences, however, if it wants to encourage the public to buy such vehicles. With greater demand, automakers can accelerate the development of “green” cars and attract consumers.

Japan is far ahead of Korea in eco-friendly car technology. Under a plan to popularize such cars with the fastest speed in the world, the Japanese government plans to replace 4,000 official vehicles with eco cars and provinces 200,000 units. No wonder that hybrid cars were the top sellers in Japan in April.

Korea’s Environment Ministry was the biggest buyer of low-emission cars among government organizations. Environment Minister Lee Man-eui, however, does not use an eco-friendly car. If he sets an example of using a Korean-made hybrid car, the government`s policy will be more widely acknowledged. Hideo Higashikokubaru, governor of Japan’s Miyazaki Prefecture, replaced his official luxury sedan with a hybrid in early 2007, saving 600,000 yen in operating and fuel expenses a year.

Considering the determination shown by President Lee Myung-bak, his administration is an “economic emergency” and a “green” government at the same time. The government and state-run organizations, however, are far from being emergency or green. Automakers should also try to increase demand for fuel-efficient vehicles by continuing to develop new technologies and improve quality.