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Seoul official calls for Asian transition to low-carbon economy

A senior diplomat on Thursday outlined South Korea's commitment to environment-friendly energy policy, including plans to reduce its dependency on coal and nuclear power plants, and sharply increase the use of renewable energy sources.

During a energy policy forum, Vice Foreign Minister Cho Hyun called on Asian nations to shift to a low-carbon economy, which would provide a new growth engine.

"The transition from traditional fossil fuels to clean energy is indeed not easy. The transition is in fact burdensome given the initial costs of investment," Cho said in his opening speech to the Korea-Asia Energy Cooperation Seminar in Seoul.

"But (countries) need to have a proactive mindset to utilize the transition to a low-carbon economy as a new engine for economic growth," the vice minister said.

Asian countries are currently faced with a major challenge of securing cheap and enough energy sources, with China and India leading an increase in the global energy consumption.

"But today's energy problem requires the use of renewable low-carbon energy sources ... as well as the securing of an energy supply," he stressed.

For its part, South Korea permanently shut down one nuclear power plant last month and plans to close 10 aging coal power plants, Cho said.

"In place of them, South Korea will expand the portion of renewable energy to 20 percent of its total energy production by 2030," he said.

Cho also referred to South Korea's efforts to boost the production of electric cars, energy storage systems and lithium-ion batteries.

The seminar held in a hotel in central Seoul brought together 200 energy officials, businessmen and experts from seven Asian countries, including the Philippines, Lebanon, Vietnam, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia. (Yonhap)