Korean NGO’s Statement on Major Groups and Stakeholders Asia Pacific Meeting 2011
Korea’s Green Growth is a “Green Wash”
Green Growth based on Nuclear Power and the Construction Industry
The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio+20, will focus on two themes: ‘Green economy’ and ‘Institutional framework for sustainable development’. The Korean government’s ‘Green Growth’ is estimated as a successful model by international community. For example, UNEP stated that Korea is leading the world in the field, however, they need to get enough knowledge and understanding of what is really happening in Korea before they pay that compliment. The truth is Korean government’s large scale civil engineering projects and constructions, such as nuclear power plants, are driving the Korean environment into a catastrophe.
Green Growth is relying on nuclear power by building 13 new plants by 2024.
Even with the Fukushima accident, Korean government emphasizes that strengthening the role of nuclear power is inevitable to act against high oil price and to ensure GHG emission reduction. According to this plan, nuclear power plants are expected to account for 48% of Korea’s total power generation capacity by building 13 more new plants by 2024. In the end, the nuclear power becomes the energy supporting Green Growth policy.
Besides, the government targets to secure the fundamental technology and develop Korean-modeled nuclear plants by 2015 and finally enhance the competitiveness of nuclear power plants in exports. In short, the Green Growth vision of the government suggests nuclear power as a clean energy.
However, uranium is also a limited resource like fossil fuels. Nuclear power is not a low carbon energy source considered as the life cycle of uranium including mining, refining and dismantling. So far no country has found solutions to overcome the risks and manage the high-level radioactive wastes. Historically, the word ‘green’ is very close to ‘anti-nuclear’. The Korean government has committed a grave mistake by putting nuclear power into ‘clean energy’ and such a blunder happens rarely in the world.
“The 4 Rivers Project” covering our rivers with concrete: water pollution and ecosystem degradation.
The government advertises “The 4 River Project” as a leading project of ‘Green Growth’ and as a ‘new conceptual flood control policy to prepare for climate change’. However, the 4 River Project is nothing more than a large scale civil engineering construction project that cuts natural water flow by building 22 large weirs and embankments, and by dredging 570,000,000㎥ in aggregate of riverbeds. Damming up the rivers and dredging riverbeds on a large scale will cause severe water pollution and ecosystem degradation.
The government planned to invest 22.2 trillion KRW, 8% of its annual budget, in this project which will cause tremendous environmental destruction. To fund this destructible project, the government has cut public service budgets set for social welfare, railroad construction and so on. Moreover, a 4 month environmental impact assessment was undertaken along with a 3 month cultural heritage research throughout all the regions around the 4 rivers, which found that many of the heritage sites will be submerged.
We strongly doubt whether the Lee Myung-bak government is pushing these construction projects for nature, the people of the nation and the future generations. We anticipate that if the grand canal, under the name of the 4 River Restoration Project, is completed in the near future, the 4 major rivers which are the repository of Korean history, cultural heritage and ecosystems will face fatal threats.
We oppose Korean style Green Growth
‘Low Carbon Green Growth’ in Korea is going towards Gray Growth with nuclear power and large scale civil engineering construction projects. They are based on the projects that will destroy life, such as the 4 River Projects, building food base abroad, violent urban redevelopment, deregulation of greenbelts and development within national parks. The endless desire for growth is just green-washing. Thus UNEP should not accept the present government’s civil engineering-based policies as Green Growth. In this respect, the Korean environmental organizations will try to do their best to inform the world of the ugly facts of the Korean government’s Green Growth policy.
18 October, 2011
Green Korea United
Korea Federation for Environmental Movements(KFEM)/Friends of the Earth Korea
Korean Women’s Association United
National Council of YMCAs of Korea
Kim, Hyunji (Korea Federation for Environmental Movements, firstname.lastname@example.org, +82 10 6374 3109/010 6374 3109)
Lee, Yujin (Green Korea United, email@example.com, +82 10 3229 4907/010 3229 4907)