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[Editorial] Green Growth Miracle

Posted January. 05, 2010 06:16,   


President Lee Myung-bak said in his New Year’s speech yesterday, “The global economic crisis triggered by the U.S.-led financial meltdown and the environmental crisis caused by climate change are prompting the establishment of a new order,” adding, “Korea will preemptively and fundamentally cope with climate change through a strategy of low carbon and green growth.” He added, “Green growth is our vision, and we must ensure that our vision becomes the world’s vision.” This comment is interpreted as a suggestion to make Korea a leading country in green growth strategy aimed at the dual goals of a successful economy and environment, and to show his utmost leadership to this end.

Korea’s rapid industrialization created the miracle on the Han River.” If so, there is no reason for the country not to create another miracle in green growth. If Koreans apply their latent potential, challenging spirit and wisdom to this, the nation can emerge as a leading global player in the era of green growth in the 21st century.

The challenge of a green growth economy is not optional but essential. A reshuffle of the world order caused by shifts in the global economy and climate change is prompting Korea to embrace change. Trade protectionism and non-tariff barriers are rising against countries that fail to help prevent global warming. Unless Korea steps up its drive toward green growth, it will not only neglect its global responsibility but also lose its industrial and export competitiveness. On the other hand, if Korea wisely uses this crisis as an opportunity, it can take center stage in the new economy of the 21st century.

The greenhouse gas reduction market is emerging as a new growth engine, going beyond being merely a means for coping with climate change. An analysis by an international professional agency says the size of the renewable energy market encompassing solar, wind and bio energy will grow from 75.8 billion U.S. dollars in 2007 to 315.1 billion dollars in 2018. The carbon market will expand from 126.3 billion dollars in 2008 to 150 billion dollars this year. The Knowledge Economy Ministry and the Bank of Korea predict that the number of jobs created in the domestic renewable energy industry will skyrocket from 25,441 in 2007 to 944,993 in 2020. The pace of technological development in electric vehicles and hybrid cars will change the map of the global automobile market.

What Korea and its people need to do is to implement a green growth vision by taking practical action, including through public policy and eco-friendly living, while going beyond simply making declarations. Fortunately, the Low Carbon, Green Growth Act aimed at providing institutional assistance to green growth was passed through a consensus by the National Assembly late last year. A major advance in green growth also came in Korea’s landing of a contract to supply four nuclear power plants in the United Arab Emirates. Korea has effectively shown its competitive edge in the environmental sector.

Green growth is hard to attain without public understanding and a change in lifestyle, however. President Lee told ministers who were late for a Cabinet meeting yesterday morning because of heavy snow to ride the subway even in normal times. Korea can turn into a green growth powerhouse only if the public changes its lifestyle.