[EDITORIALS]New energy strategy neededHurricane damage in the southeastern United States, renewed security fears in Nigeria and a host of other factors have caused crude oil futures to rise sharply. The benchmark West Texas Intermediate contract for November delivery closed above $50 per barrel for the first time ever. Middle Eastern oil prices are fast following.
There is talk of an “oil price bubble,” but experts don’t expect anything to burst now that winter is approaching ― the season when oil consumption increases. Oil prices might drop briefly, but we can’t expect prices to fall to the levels we knew in the past, most experts warn.
We can’t stress enough the effect of oil price increases on the economy. Oil price hikes are fatal to factory operations and business management, and lead directly to a rise in consumer prices. High oil prices discourage people from spending and influence nearly all fields, including exports and economic growth. In short, life gets tougher for everyone.
If this situation continues, we will not see the 5 percent growth rate target that the government has set. A decrease in corporate activities will lead to more unemployment, aggravating the hardships of the public. Businesses are already into their contingency plans.
Korea imports most of its energy resources, so we must hurry with our preparations to soften the blows caused by a world of high oil prices. We must restructure our industries to become more energy-efficient and implement new energy-saving policies. These policies should extend to taxation and distribution.
Efforts should be made to lessen the impact of rising oil prices on lower-income households. A master plan must be made, and the government must review its economic blueprint to evaluate whether it is still doable, given the high oil prices.
It is only thanks to nuclear energy that we are not suffering from a shortage of energy. The government must work harder to convince the public of the necessity of nuclear energy. It must also encourage voluntary participation in saving energy. We must also work to diversify our energy imports and develop alternative energy sources.
The government and the oil industry should not repeat their old habit of kicking up a fuss when the oil prices rise, then quickly forgetting about the matter. We cannot afford any more trial-and-error approaches.
It is this simple: The future of our country depends on how efficiently we adjust to the era of high oil prices.