Petty war over ‘green’ turf

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Petty war over ‘green’ turf

President Lee Myung-bak signed the Framework Act on Low Carbon Green Growth on Jan. 13, 2010. He declared, “The Act will serve as a catalyst to lay a solid legal and institutional foundation to develop Korea as a leading country in terms of green growth in the international community.” However, there is much confusion about which ministry will be in charge of implementing and enforcing relevant policies, even with just one month left before the act enters into force.

This is unprecedented in Korean history.

The real culprit behind such confusion is the draft enforcement decree stipulating that the Ministry of Knowledge Economy and the Environment Ministry should make a concerted effort to manage and supervise the purposeful reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and energy use.

If the draft enforcement decree as written enters into force with the act, there will be an awkward overlap between the two ministries’ responsibilities.

The two ministries are competing against each other to take charge, insisting that one has accumulated better expertise and achievements than the other in the fields of implementing energy efficiency and conservation goals and improving the performance of greenhouse gas emission reduction policies. The private sector will inevitably find it difficult to bear the heavy burden of maintaining two standards set in place by two different agencies.

In close collaboration with private enterprises, the Lee Myung-bak administration will invest some 107 trillion won ($95 billion) to implement the green growth policy based on its grand five-year plan from 2009 to 2013, for the sake of creating new growth engines and helping the nation’s industries adapt to climate change.

Against this backdrop, the two ministries are fighting against each other based on selfish motives. It is a vicious turf war between rival ministries, rather than a debate over efficiency.

Amid the chaos, those within the government who are supposed to play the role of mediators are not doing their jobs. In the Presidential Committee on Green Growth, the prime minister serves as co-chair, and various ministers participate as members, including the senior secretary for state affairs planning from the presidential office. However, they have failed to provide an appropriate solution to the problem.

Last Friday, economic organizations presented a recommendation to the government, which read, “It is necessary to unify the ministry in charge to coordinate relevant affairs to improve work efficiency.”

We are concerned that the government will not succeed in directing traffic on the new law anytime soon.
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