President Lee Myung-bak said Monday that his government will introduce a carbon emissions trading system in a flexible way, taking impact on businesses into account.
“The government is planning to introduce the emissions trading scheme at an opportune time after thoroughly sounding out the opinions of industries,” Lee said in his biweekly radio address.
“A business that emits greenhouse gases more than its allocated target will have to purchase carbon credits while those businesses that emit less than their limit will be compensated,” he added.
“The government will implement the scheme in a flexible manner considering international trends and industrial competitiveness.”
South Korea earlier announced a plan to introduce the system in stages starting in January 2013 for its long-term goal of cutting emissions by 30 percent by 2020 under a “business as usual” scenario. The target amounts to a 4 percent reduction from the 2005 level.
The government is preparing to submit a related bill to the National Assembly later this month.
Local businesses, however, have expressed worries over hikes in production costs. Research shows that a total of 370 local firms directly affected by the system will have to spend as much as 18.2 trillion won ($1.6 billion) in extra costs by 2020.
The president emphasized the importance of green growth, a key policy of his administration.
“Climate change is posing fundamental challenges not only to the ecosystem but also to industries and lifestyles in general,” he said. “Given the generally accepted view that continued economic growth inevitably results in the destruction of the environment, green growth is a novel idea.”
It is intended to protect the environment while promoting economic growth by creating new job opportunities and growth engines through green technologies and clean energy, he pointed out.
He defended the ongoing project to clean and refurbish the country’s four major rivers despite criticism that it will eventually devastate the ecosystem.
“The U.N. Environment Program announced that Korea’s Four Rivers Project is an exemplary model of environment-friendly endeavors as well as an efficient means of coping with climate change,” he said. “The core idea behind the Four Rivers Project lies in minimizing flood damage stemming from climate change while securing water resources in a stable manner.”
Following a weeks-long cold spell, Lee reminded the people of the need to save energy.
“Saving energy in everyday life represents an effective means for overcoming high oil prices as well as a best practice for low-carbon green growth,” he said. “In fact, saving energy has now become a most important means of securing energy along with fossil fuels and the new and renewable energies.”