Korea is a leader in green growth, having implemented a new paradigm for national economic growth. Korea recognized that the process of rapid economic growth since the 1960s did not take environment considerations into account, leading to environmental deterioration. The new growth paradigm pursued a virtuous relationship between the environment and economy. Korea’s green growth policy seeks to create harmony between the environment and economy, and has served as public policy for significant yet sustainable development. The successful implementation of the green growth policies was attributable to the fact that green growth was not an abruptly or newly created idea. Rather, the advancement of past policy efforts, combined with the green growth paradigm, led to comprehensive economic growth policy.
In 2009, the Five-Year Plan for Green Growth was established, and Korea’s green growth policies were actively promoted. The Five-Year Plan established three sectors and ten policy directions to respond to climate change, foster new growth engines, improve the quality of life and boost Korea’s national status. This movement established its legal foundation when the Framework Act Low Carbon, Green Growth was enacted in 2010, becoming national policy with support from the Presidential Committee on Green Growth and regional committees on green growth in each local government and related institutions. The legislation mandated various efforts to establish, implement, and update policies.
As a policy to reduce GHG emissions, the Greenhouse Gas and Energy Target Management System began in 2010 with the establishment of the Greenhouse Gas Inventory & Research Center. In 2011, the Greenhouse Gas Management System was created, and in 2012, the Renewable Portfolio Standard was introduced. In 2015, the emission trading system will begin. In addition to policies for GHG emissions reduction, various policies are being implemented to reduce the use of fossil fuels, strengthen energy independence, implement green changes to the manufacturing industry, build green land and promote the green lifestyle.
Although Korea’s green growth policies resulted in many achievements, many lessons to address shortcomings were revealed as well. First, green growth policies are a strategy to achieve sustainable development and the government needs to take into account the economy, environment and social development—the three pillars of sustainable development—in a balanced manner. Second, green growth is an environment-friendly growth strategy that involves development projects but the environmental effects should be sufficiently taken into account to minimize environmental degradation. Third, legal and institutional foundations must be established to promote green growth policies. Fourth, in order to support developing nations to promote green growth policies, Korea needs to highlight green growth, using existing knowledge sharing programs.
Facing international crises such as climate change and global warming, developing nations should also participate in strategic discussions for common prosperity in the international community. As a leading nation for green growth, Korea can assist developing nations participate in green growth by sharing the results and lessons of its own experience of green growth. This can be achieved through various means of cooperation, while Korea seeks to improve the quality of its own green growth policies.