[Outlook]A green growth engine

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[Outlook]A green growth engine

Climate change due to emissions of greenhouse gases has emerged as a key global issue, as has the international race for resources.

American President-elect Barack Obama said he would make the renewable energy industry into a new growth engine.

Global competition has begun in the green growth sector, and advanced economies are concentrating their national power on low-carbon, green growth. They are trying to use their resources efficiently, and to minimize pollution and negative effects on the environment.

President Lee Myung-bak has also presented environmentally friendly growth as a vision for development. The strategy is to create new jobs by developing technology and sources of energy that will not harm the environment, and will contribute to battling climate change and a global energy crisis.

This is in line with efforts in the developed world to respond to the challenges that climate change is presenting us with, and to pursue sustainable growth.

To achieve low-carbon, green growth, we should abandon the prejudice that economic growth cannot be pursued without damaging the environment. Instead, we should understand that a synergy effect can be created.

This can be achieved by using an eco-efficient, information technology-based approach.

Leading countries regard information technology as a key to eco-friendly growth. The World Wildlife Fund understands that carbon dioxide emissions can be reduced by 7 to 25 percent using IT.

The United States believes that a 7 percentage point increase in Internet broadband services will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 1.45 million tons and secure carbon emission rights worth $18 million. As such, IT will play a vital role in green development.

If Korea, a leading country in terms of information technology, works with the United States, the two would be able to overcome the economic crisis and present an environmentally friendly cooperation model for the future.

Korea’s national knowledge infrastructure strategy systemizes using information technology to realize low-carbon, green growth.

The approach involves using energy systems more efficiently on a national level by establishing social infrastructure based on new knowledge. This means connecting infrastructure with information technology in order to maximize energy efficiency. Examples would be a system to manage energy in buildings, and an intelligent traffic system.

On highways across the country, some car lanes are reserved only for drivers who pay their tolls via automated machines.

This system is expected to save 1.5 trillion won ($1.08 billion) worth of distribution costs in the 10 years to come.

Secondly, cyber-infrastructure should be established in the professional world, so that we can make the most of technological advances such as high-tech video conferencing systems.

According to the European Union, if 10 percent of employees were able to work from home, it would result in a 22.2 million-ton reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.

The U.S. General Services Administration announced that 50 percent of its workforce will do their jobs from home by 2010. The project has already succeeded in reducing 1,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year.

Thirdly, a system to share information will reduce the consumption of resources.

Digital technologies can slash the amount of resources and energy that are required to ready a product for consumption, in processes such as manufacturing, logistics and distribution. Lastly, the capacity to forecast can be enhanced by establishing infrastructure that will allow us a better picture of the future.

In an era of low-carbon, green growth, it is very important to be able to collect and analyze basic statistics and make forecasts from an objective point of view. Analyzing information about the environment and using it to make detailed predictions about the future is a key to eco-friendly growth.

The national knowledge infrastructure strategy is vital to overcoming the economic crisis and securing future growth engines that won’t harm our ecosystems. It is also a strategy focused on building a knowledge-based nation that cares for its environment.

Korea has the chance to present a new global model for information technology-based green growth.

It is time to realize that IT is a key tool for green growth, and to pursue a national knowledge infrastructure across the country.

The writer is a professor of public administration at Sungkyunkwan University Graduate School of Governance. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.

by Kim Sung-tae

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