Germany shares tips on eco-friendly industry

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Germany shares tips on eco-friendly industry

As Korea strives to become one of the frontrunners in promoting green growth, a group of government and industry officials from Germany visited Seoul last week to share their experience, particularly in the implementation of the so-called European Union Emissions Trading System.

“Korea is in a crucial phase now as it will be implementing an emissions trading system [starting in 2015],” said Wolfgang Seidel, an official from the German Emissions Trading Authority.

He was among the German delegation that attended a three-day symposium early last week that met with Korean government officials and industry players and shared their experience in designing the market-based approach system properly and implementing it so that it does not harm businesses.

In May, Korea’s National Assembly approved a carbon trading scheme that caps carbon pollution from January of 2015. The approval came despite concerns from the industry.

The system allows mainly companies to buy and sell carbon credits to emit gas within a target stated by the government, as part of aims to encourage them to become more energy efficient.

A company that emits less than the amount allocated by the government, for example, will be able to sell the credit to others that need more than what they have been given or receive incentives for achieving reductions in the emissions. Final details of the emissions trading system in Korea, however, are still to be worked out.

“We want to give support to the Korean side to tell them about our experience, to introduce our system within the framework of the European Union,” said Johannes Regenbrecht, deputy ambassador at the German Embassy in Seoul.

He invited the environment delegation from his home country to his residence in Hannam-dong, central Seoul, for a casual dinner. “In the first year [after implementing the system], there were some difficulties, but nowadays, the key stakeholders, including the industry, are very supportive.”

European Union countries have implemented the system since 2005 and so far, a large number of companies are participating in the program.

The Korean industry circle has been concerned that implementing the system will restrict their business operations and manufacturing, which has been a major driving force of the Korean economy.

“In the long-run, the implementation of the system will benefit Korean companies as they will become frontrunners in energy efficiency,” Seidel said. “This will make businesses more competitive in the global market.”

The Korean government’s move to implement the emissions trading scheme comes at a time when the country has been making efforts to promote itself as a major promoter of green growth.

Under the Lee Myung-bak administration, Korea founded the Global Green Growth Institute, which became an international organization recently, and also Korea managed to win the bid to attract the Green Climate Fund headquarters in Songdo in Incheon.

“We’re happy because Korea is very much a front-runner and a fast mover on green growth and the emissions trading system is the key implementing instrument to cap emissions and to help prevent climate change,” Regenbrecht said.

“This is why we’re happy to extend cooperation with Korea to move forward together.”

By Lee Eun-joo [angie@joongang.co.kr]

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