South Korea’s Han Says World Needs a New Clean Growth Agenda

The world needs a new way to expand economies that moves it away from fossil fuels and allows nations to grow while protecting the environment, former South Korean Prime Minister Han Seung-Soo said.

Developing countries need to be given access to technologies such as wind and solar power, energy efficiency measures that divert them from the development path taken by industrialized nations, Han said in an interview at United Nations climate-change talks in Cancun, Mexico.

“The root of the problem is we depend heavily on fossil fuels,” said Han, who heads the Seoul-based Global Green Growth Institute, an organization founded in May to promote low-carbon growth in poorer nations. This is the “development paradigm of the past,” he said.

UN envoys at the Cancun talks are trying to devise an agreement that incorporates a mechanism to transfer expensive low-carbon technology such as wind turbines, solar panels and electric cars to developing nations as well as financial aid to help poorer nations reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.

“Developing countries all want to grow fast but growing fast means you have to emit more carbon dioxide,” Han said. To change that “means making these green technologies cheaper,” he said. “If you rely on the private sector it will never go down because they want to make a profit so the public sector has to get involved in developing these technologies.”

Han’s institute, funded with about $10 million a year by the Korean government, this year started its first three projects in developing countries. They will devise a low-carbon growth plan including forest protection in East Kalimantan, Indonesia, advise the Ethiopian government on low-carbon growth and carry out an analysis of the Brazilian steel, timber, electricity and cattle ranching industries to see how they can be made more efficient. The Cancun talks are due to end Dec. 10.

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