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Korea has grown sub-tropical and must adjust, experts say

Mar 22,2007
Global warming has changed Korea’s climate to subtropical and economic damage from irregular weather has sky-rocketed in the past decade, according to a leading think tank. The Samsung Economic Research Institute issued a report yesterday asking how Korea will deal with its new weather patterns, based on information provided by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The institute said that climate-related financial losses are snowballing and suggested that the government encourage companies to invest in eco-friendly businesses.
According to the report, losses from disasters such as typhoons and floods averaged 174.7 billion won ($186 million) per annum in the 1970s, but grew to 685.2 billion won in the 1990s and have been averaging 2.6 trillion won in the past few years, it said. Losses from yellow dust are 5.5 billion won a year.
The think tank noted that increasing greenhouse gases are the main cause of global warming and suggested that the Korean government take a more aggressive stance in creating a comprehensive plan to deal with these problems. Renewable energy sources in Korea only account for 0.5 percent of all energy that is consumed, much less than the OECD average of 5.7 percent.
A next-generation furnace that Posco will begin operating next month only produces 8 percent of the sulfates generated by existing furnaces. The steelmaker spent 2 trillion won to bring this furnace on line and they have been trumpeting its environmentally friendly properties.
Posco is one of many companies that are spending more on developing eco-friendly products and new businesses related to the environment. Companies that use a lot of energy in sectors such as steel and petrochemicals are more focused on finding “cleaner” alternatives.
The institute claimed that laws must be changed so that more companies will invest in eco-friendly businesses, citing examples from the European Union and United States.
Although environmental problems increase costs as companies invest to reduce emissions, the institute said that changes in the weather creates opportunities for new businesses and could potentially be a boon for the Korean economy.


By Wohn Dong-hee Staff Writer [wohn@joongang.co.kr]



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