[EDITORIALS]No sacrifice of environment

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[EDITORIALS]No sacrifice of environment

The UN World Summit on Sustainable Development closed Wednesday, adopting a declaration and a final action plan on economic and ecological goals. While the delegates from 103 countries hailed the outcome as satisfactory, environmentalist groups angrily called the summit outcome a backward step from the accomplishments at Rio de Janeiro 10 years ago.

It is regrettable that the Rio Declaration, adopted to save "the integral and interdependent nature of the Earth, our home," has not been implemented because of conflicting national interests for the last 10 years. The Johannesburg summit succeeded in setting some important goals and action plans. But it is disappointing that there are no specific objectives and fixed timetables in the final plan.

It is praiseworthy that the meeting set ambitious action plans: Reducing by half the number of people in absolute poverty, subsisting on less than $1 a day, by 2015 and minimizing the production and consumption of ecologically harmful chemicals by 2020. At the summit, China, followed by Russia, announced its intent to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on global warming. With these two countries' participation, the chances increase of the protocol taking effect soon.

South Korea was represented by 300 officials and civic group members. The size of the Korean delegation demonstrated its keen interest and sense of responsibility toward preservation of the environment. The hottest issue at the 10-day session was the European proposal to increase the use of renewable energy from sun, wind and waves to 15 percent of all energy use by 2020. The United States and some oil-producing countries objected, and it was made a recommendation. For South Korea, it is rather a relief that the proposal was not adopted now, for the share of renewable energy here is only 1.6 percent. Although the recommendation has no binding force, its target will be referred to in all international energy policies and action plans.

It is essential that the government make careful preparations when it draws a long-term energy plan and plans industrial restructuring. It is wrong to give priority to either development or environmental protection. We should not choose one at the sacrifice of the other. South Korea should pay due attention to preserving its environment and plan its economic system consistent with sustainable development.
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