Korean firms should stop complaining about carbon-trading scheme

The new director general of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) urged the automobile and energy industries Tuesday to stop complaining about the carbon-trading scheme and imposing heavy taxes on polluting cars.

The two measures are expected to be implemented in January 2015.

Firms that generate massive amounts of greenhouse gases, in particular, have strongly opposed the measures, saying they will reduce their competitiveness.

“These measures were announced by the government years ago ― during the Lee Myung-bak administration. So if industries are not ready, I think the industry should have acted earlier,” Yvo de Boer told The Korea Times.

De Boer, a Dutchman, disagreed with firms claiming that the carbon-reduction schemes will undermine their competitiveness, saying that it will do the opposite in the long run.

“If you tax efficient vehicles or electric vehicles less, then you make them more attractive to consumers, and market shares for these automakers will go up.”

Debate surrounding the two new measures reflects a significant challenge in the fight against environmental problems.

De Boer said businesses have a significant role to play in countering conditions that promote global warming.

“What will determine the value of a company in the future is going to be fundamentally different to what determines the value of a company today. I think the future value of the companies is going to be determined by what the companies contribute to the country, economically, socially and environmentally,” he said.

The director general was appointed as the GGGI head two months ago.

He served as executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change between 2006 and 2010. His role in bringing almost 100 world’s leaders to its annual negotiations in Copenhagen in 2009 was widely praised.

His appointment came at a critical time for the 22-member organization which is the first international organization established under the leadership of the Korean government.

De Boer said the GGGI is looking to focus more on putting its research and analytic work into practice. The institute currently has 34 projects underway in 20 developing countries.

He praised the United State’s recent announcement that it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from coal power plants by 30 percent from the 2005 level by 2030, saying that will also motivate China to act.

U.S. and China are the two biggest greenhouse gas emitting countries, and the most important actors in the ongoing international climate change negotiations, under which countries are attempting to come up with a post-Kyoto Protocol agreement that would get all countries to act.


Article by Kim Se-jeong