Abhishek Sharma (Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh), Ayushi Saxena (Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh), M.Janakavi (Chennai, Tamil Nadu), Monisha Mondal (Greater Noida West, Uttar Pradesh), Smiti Iyer (New Delhi)
South Korea, a liberal democracy in North East-Asia, has its fair share of environmental challenges to deal with, owing to the rapid industrialization that took place over the years. Earlier, maintaining an adequate protection of the country’s ecosystems was a remote second priority as compared to improving the economic development of the nation. In 2016, the country was the third-highest polluter in the world per capita. Now that South Korea has already emerged as a developed economy, the country has been prioritising to solve the issues of environmental degradation and pollution. The South Korean government pledged to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations (UN). In this article, we will touch upon four strands of South Korea’s policies and initiatives towards environment protection, namely, Green Growth, Green Energy, Climate Change, and Ecology. Let’s take a look at these one by one:
In recent years, South Korea has been at the forefront of green growth initiatives. The National Strategy for Green Growth (2009-2050) and the Five-Year Plan (2009-2013) of Korea provide a comprehensive policy framework for green growth in both the short and long term. In the long term, they aim to promote eco-friendly new growth engines, enhance people’s quality of life and contribute to international efforts to fight climate change. In 2009, a Presidential Commission on Green Growth was established and a Framework Act on Low Carbon Green Growth was enacted in 2010.
They also aim to become a leading exporter in the area of green research and technology. In line with this plan, South Korea has passed a USD 30.7 billion stimulus package aimed to support its green ambitions. This included renewable energy resources, energy efficient buildings, expanding of railway systems and improving waste management. Projected benefits include increasing employment in green sectors, improved income and energy security as well as significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions. As seen in many K-Dramas, the people of South Korea practice dumping garbage in separate bins.
South Korea recently hosted the P4G (Partnering for Green Growth and Global Goals 2030) summit virtually. This summit has injected a renewed spirit into the Climate change movement amidst the ravaging pandemic across the world. Climate Change, an issue of global concern, has again come to attention with the promises, pledges, commitments, and strategies laid at the summit. South Korea has taken the lead role in the mission against Climate Change by not only hosting the summit but also with its new commitments.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in has reiterated the need for the global community to come together for ‘inclusive green recovery towards carbon neutrality’ in line with the pledge to become Carbon Neutral by 2050 through its Green New Deal. President Moon Jae-in has promised increased climate ODA (Official Development Assistance) to developing countries, assisting them in shifting from fossil fuel-dependent energy.
Being a High-tech and innovation-driven state, South Korea has already shown its leadership in innovation in areas of technology like 5G and ICT (Information and Communication Technology). This innovation is the key to replacing fossil fuels and using renewable energy like solar and wind. It can also show the way for a new private-public partnership model, which has been the demand from many climate experts to fight climate change. Bringing in big corporations and entrepreneurs will help in shaping a new, greener future. The success of the automobile industry giants like KIA and Hyundai venturing into the electric cars technology is an example of the impact this partnership can create.
Global warming is one of the major concerns that the world is facing currently mainly due to burning of fossil fuels, usage of CFCs and harmful gases coming out from the vehicles etc. The Government of South Korea has been taking continuous measures for years in order to tackle this situation. The Korean Government has been staging a movement to reduce greenhouse gases through Green Start Campaign which drives the implementation of greenhouse gas reduction by the cooperative governance between government, commerce, and civilian organisation.
Green Life Movement which is implemented through Green Start Movement promotes green consumption, green transportation movement, reduces food wastes and makes green homes. Carbon point system incentives are also provided to motivate people for the same. The Government will pursue carbon reduction in every field of economy by replacing fossil fuels as main energy resources by renewable sources of energy.
Circular economy initiatives will also be implemented such as reducing and recycling energy using advanced computerised power grids in factories. Korea plans to install smart meters in five million more apartments, to help consumers reduce their electricity use. The government will also invest in micro grid communities. This involves using renewable energy and energy storage systems in regional areas, and those with many islands, creating decentralised and low-carbon energy systems. The Green New Deal also sets a target of 1.13 million electric vehicles and 200,000 hydrogen-powered fuel-cell electric vehicles on Korean roads by 2025.
South Korean Mudflats
South Korea is pushing for its so-called mudflats. They are often overlooked by many, but there has been an increasing appreciation for their environmental value. South Korea’s south-west coastline is considered to have some of the best tidal mudflats in the world. It’s a distinctive coastal feature of this corner of the Korean Peninsula. Rivers rich in sediment flow into the shallow Yellow Sea, producing over thousands of years, expansive stretches of mud. They sustain a remarkable biodiversity with thousands of species which in turn, provides a livelihood for coastal communities.
Their livelihoods depend on preserving the ecosystem of these mudflats. Each tide results in alternate environments for land and sea species living side by side. The mud acts as a natural filter to cleanse the ocean. While the abundance of microscopic organisms is reckoned to produce as much oxygen as if the same area was planted with trees. Therefore there is a growing awareness of their life-sustaining value.
South Korea has started working emphatically on the global concern of Ecology, Economy and Environment, which can be seen manifesting in it’s policies related to Green Energy, Green Growth, Climate Change and Ecology Conservation. All the steps taken by South Korea points to a positive direction in the current era of geopolitical great game where Climate change is being pushed at the back burner. These steps give a renewed spirit to countries across the world to push for policies, perspectives and strategies to fight the challenge of Global Warming and its consequences, and this is a positive development which needs to be continued henceforth.
We hope this article helped you in learning something about the South Korean government’s initiatives towards the environment protection. Let us know your thoughts in the comments.