Time to think greenThe Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which is under the umbrella of the United Nations, warned yesterday that emissions of greenhouse gases should be reduced dramatically by 2015 to prevent worldwide catastrophe. The panel said emissions should fall to between 50 and 85 percent of the level they were in 2000 by 2015. Greenhouse gases, once discharged, remain in the atmosphere, and if they continue to increase after 2015, the effects will be irreversible. In other words, we have only eight years to save the Earth. Otherwise, by 2030, the average temperature of the Earth is expected to be 3.2 to 4 degrees Celsius higher than the pre-industrialization era. Then, 40 percent of living organisms in the world will run the risk of extinction and hundred millions of people will suffer from insufficient water.
To prevent this, the rise in the temperature by 2030 needs to be kept at 2 degrees or below. In order to do that, a 3-percent drop, or $1.5 trillion, in the gross product of the world will be necessary, the panel said. This is why countries around the world are reluctant to reduce greenhouse gas emissions even though they are aware of the seriousness of the problem.
Korea should take this problem seriously as well. After the first quantified emission limitation and reduction commitment period, from 2008 to 2012, according to the Kyoto Protocol, Korea, as a member of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development and the 10th biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, is likely to become one of the Annex I countries, which have the obligation to reduce greenhouse gases. Particularly, since China expressed its willingness to take part in the reduction, there is no excuse for Korea to evade the duty.
Korea needs to find a way to minimize expenses and at the same time participate in the worldwide responsibility of reducing greenhouse gases. The Korea Energy Economics Institute predicted that if greenhouse gas emissions are reduced by 20 percent as of 2015, Korea’s gross domestic product would be reduced 0.62 percent, or 5.3 trillion won ($5.7 billion). Depending on how the country prepares for the reduction, the loss could get bigger or smaller. To reach the goal and minimize the loss simultaneously, the country needs to get ready. Korea needs to discuss industry-specific reductions. Rather than trying to reduce an absolute amount, a way to improve energy efficiency should be considered first. It is time for the government to come up with a road map for greenhouse gas emissions reduction.