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Gov’t carbon goals chided

Industry reps claim emission reductions will hurt economy

June 17,2015
The nation’s business lobbies, industry associations and individual companies gather Tuesday morning to announce opposition to the government’s emission reduction goals at the headquarters of the Federation of Korean Industry in Yeouido, eastern Seoul. Provided by FKI
Local manufacturers rebuked the government’s carbon reduction goals announced last week, saying they are unrealistic considering currently available technologies and the public’s opposition expanding nuclear power.

The government’s four goals ranged from a 15 percent to 30 percent reduction annually in carbon emissions by 2030.

The private sector claimed that excessive emission reductions may result in a hollowing of industry, in which Korea loses its own manufacturing competitiveness as production lines escape to countries with cheaper production costs.

The nation’s six major business lobby groups, 26 sector associations and 38 individual companies held a press conference Tuesday morning in Yeouido, eastern Seoul, to call for new reduction goals lower than 15 percent and request additional carbon credits for the 2015-2017 period.

Participants included representatives from the automobile, steel, petrochemical, display, semiconductor, shipbuilding and energy generation sectors.

“We, the businesses, can’t meet all four reduction plans proposed by the government, even if the government picks the lowest plan with a 15 percent reduction goal,” said Park Chan-ho, an executive director at Federation of Korean Industries (FKI).

The Korean government announced last Thursday that the country is estimated to emit 850 million tons of greenhouse gases in 2030.

However, when the FKI calculated the 2030 emissions estimate based on past records, Korea is expected to emit about 970 million tons - nearly 14 percent more than the government’s number.

If the private sector is forced to follow the 15 percent reduction goal, Park emphasized that local manufacturers have to reduce almost 29 percent their emissions.

“The easiest goal of 15 percent reduction lowers Korea’s gross domestic product by 0.22 percent, which brings down Korea’s growth rate into the 2 percent range,” Park added.

The government is reportedly leaning towards the second scenario, which aims to reduce 19.2 percent of emissions by 2030.

The private sector instead emphasized that the government should set a reduction goal below 15 percent. It claimed that such a move would not be considered by the global community as a backslide from its pledge at the 2009 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change because advanced economies like the United States, Canada and Japan, which rely less on manufacturing, have already withdrawn their own pledges.

“Local businesses told the government that Korea should wait until the latest possible deadline, which is September, to look at the goals proposed by other developing countries, whose economies have similar dependence on the manufacturing industry,” said Park. “However, national prestige is the government’s top priority, which is making it submit the goals even before the deadline.

“I think Korea should be more practical and make more realistic pledges, rather than focusing on maintaining its honor in the global community,” Park added.


BY KIM JI-YOON [kim.jiyoon@joongang.co.kr]


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