Convenient Truth

Published on The Korea Times, June 6, 2007.

Fresh Challenge Could Be New Growth Engine: It was timely not inevitable that the G8 countries discussed global warming on the occasion of World Environmental Day Tuesday. How to prevent looming environmental disasters has in fact become so urgent an issue that even U.S. President George W. Bush can no longer avert the ‘inconvenient truth’. Koreans have been relatively free of concerns from this global issue except for complaining about unseasonably hot weather. Various circumstances indicate, however, the free ride will end soon.

Bush has proposed a summit among the world’s 15 biggest greenhouse gas emitters for late this year. Korea, the 10th largest producer of hothouse gases, including carbon dioxide, while marking its fastest increase along with China, is certain to be invited. One cannot be sure whether the U.S. leader’s suggestion will bear fruit in view of skeptical responses from Europe. With or without Bush’s proposal, however, Seoul will come under heavier pressure from the existing U.N. convention slated to go in effect by 2013.

A Korean Environment Institute’s report shows the nation should regard the issue not as external enforcement but as a voluntary duty. The study said the country would incur losses of $58 billion annually from 2100 if it fails to cut the emission of global warming gases which could push up the temperature by two degrees from now. The financial loss would decline to $20 billion if all countries, including Korea, manage to keep emissions at the level of 2012. The choice couldn’t be simpler. (full text).

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