South Korea announced July 6 it will invest 107 trillion won ($85 billion) in promoting green industries throughout the country, Reuters reported the same day. The stimulus package is roughly 2 percent of South Korea’s entire gross domestic product, and will last the next five years. Investment will largely be in green growth technologies such as solar and wind power, biofuels, hybrid cars, LED lights, smart power grids, and carbon credit trading. The government predicts the initiative will create 1.8 million new jobs and help to ride out the economic slump, Reuters said.
In an effort to significantly impact its auto industry, which is the fifth largest in the world, South Korea has raised its gas-mileage standards above those of the United States, the story said. President Obama recently mandated that all manufactured U.S. cars must get at least 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016. South Korean legislation would require 30 percent of its domestic cars to get 40 mpg by 2012, and 100 percent by 2015.
The South Korean government hopes to strengthen R&D departments in industries such as LED manufacturing, hybrid cars, and solar batteries, in order to improve its international market share of green technologies. Seoul Semiconductor, the fourth largest LED producer in the world, saw its stock rise 11 percent, and automaker Hyundai Mobis gained 3.7 percent as soon as news of the investment came out, although the government has not yet specified how it will fund the plan, Reuters reports. South Korea President Lee Myung-bak predicts this should carry the country up to the seventh most competitive country in terms of energy efficiency and environmental adaptation.
In its climb to becoming a world influence the country will begin to practice carbon credit trading in 2011, continuing for real in 2012, in order to get into the global carbon market. The government will also offer tax rebates, loans, and credit guarantees to small- and medium-sized companies developing green technologies, Reuters said. The plan not only aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but also will turn South Korea into a new green global giant.
TIME Magazine reported at the end of June that South Korea’s pledge accounts for 81 percent of the stimulus program, compared to the 12 percent allocated in United States’ plan for green initiatives.