Korea: From Polluter to Green Growth Evangelist
While Korea is known for manufacturing quality automobiles and high-tech gadgets a lesser-known area of focus is no less important: Green growth. Automakers like Hyundai and Kia Motors work continuously to develop more efficient cars and have set up a comprehensive environmental management system to minimize waste during production. Major consumer electronics companies like Samsung and LG have set up similar systems and worked to make their products easier to recycle.
So what is the story behind eco-friendly Korea? From the 1960s to 1980s, Korea’s main focus was developing the economy as quickly as possible. This often meant that environmental factors took a back seat to growth. By the 1990s, Korea had achieved financial success and joined the OECD. But there’s a dark side to this as well. From 1990 to 2005 Korea’s greenhouse gas emissions doubled, rising faster than any other country in the OECD’s history.
Photo Credit: innpictime @ Flickr
Things have really started to change for the better, however, since 2008 when the Korean government rolled out its first major green growth initiatives and actually made “green growth” a motto for national development going forward.
One of the government’s first moves was to encourage more passengers to take green transportation options like the KTX high speed rail, rather than personal cars or diesel busses.
The government has also focused on strengthening the peninsula’s capacity to adapt to climate change, such as monsoon season and droughts in spring through river restoration and sewage facility projects.
A third measure is planned investment in green technology R&D. Green technology R&D investment stood at 16% in 2009 and the government raised it to 20% in 2012.
The government also put in place incentives and programs to encourage development of technologies dealing with renewable energy and utilizing resources like fresh water and waste. These projects helped reduce CO2 emissions by 10% since 2008. The government is working hard to reduce the emissions by 30% by the end of 2030.
Korea’s Green growth programs have been such a success over the past four years that Korea is now starting to export its eco-friendly expertise to other countries.
Photo Credit: EcoCommish @ Flickr
Cameroon has long suffered from an energy shortfall, with demand far-outstripping supply. This not only made life hard for citizens, it also made it difficult for the country to develop major industries. Foreign investors shunned the country for its lack of stable energy.
As part of the Korean government’s 2013-2017 plan for African countries, Korea International Cooperation Agency (Koica) will share new methods of generating energy such as a system that combines hydroelectric power with water purification.