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Korean firms cut emissions via partnerships

Ministry: 166 firms reduced 56,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions during last 2 years

Korea’s efforts to shrink its carbon footprint are progressing through partnerships between big and smaller companies.

The Ministry of Knowledge Economy said Monday that 166 local businesses have reduced more than 56,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions over the last two years in a green collaboration program, a reduction equivalent to taking nearly 113,000 cars off the roads. They also saved 27.5 billion won ($25.9 million) in electricity for the same period.

Participants include Hyundai Steel, Amore Pacific, Woongjin Coway, Halla Climate Control and Chungmoo Chemical.

In the carbon partnership project for large, small- and mid-sized enterprises, the firms measured the amount of carbon dioxide they had discharged since June 2009 and took collective steps to curb it, such as by developing technology, improving the production process and installing necessary facilities.

“The project established the foundation of mutual growth between industry leaders and their smaller partners by allowing them to draw up joint action plans to cope with tightening global environmental regulations and climate change,” Kim Kyung-won, chief of the ministry’s industrial economic policy arm, said at a ceremony to celebrate the program’s results.

“It also provided a chance to settle low-carbon, green management policies in the SMEs as their efforts produced noticeable outcomes by cutting costs and energy use while emitting less.”

The project came as part of the Lee Myung-bak administration’s drive to foster economy in a way that is environmentally and socially sustainable.

The economy ministry has been shoring up nearly 1,000 SMEs by providing 22 billion won since 2003 for the “green partnership.”

Over the seven-year period, the companies have saved more than 68 billion won worth of energy expenses and curtailed around 33,300 tons of emissions, the ministry said.

“Green” and “mutual” have been keywords for growth as the mainstay of Asia’s fourth-largest economy shifts from smokestack industries to high-tech while seeking to reduce social, economic disparities.

Korea is the ninth-largest polluter worldwide. Its rapidly expanding economy has seen carbon dioxide emissions more than double over the past two decades.

President Lee said in 2009 he wants to voluntarily slash the country’s projected levels of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 by 30 percent under a “low-carbon, green growth” vision.

His administration has also been promoting a “fair society” policy. In his Liberation Day speech, Lee pledged to fix the lopsided relationship between large corporations and their smaller partners.

By Shin Hyon-hee (