April 22nd marks International Earth Day, and to coincide with the date, representatives from over 150 nations are gathering at the UN headquarters in New York on Friday to sign the landmark climate change agreement that was reached in Paris last year. Individual countries have vowed to do their part in tackling climate change, and Korea is no exception, having set a challenging target of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 37-percent. Kwon Jang-ho takes a look at what actions have been taken in today's news feature. Last December a landmark deal was reached among global leaders to try tackle the ongoing global warming problem. The agreement aims to stop global temperatures from increasing over 2-degrees-Celsius since pre-industrial times. In order to achieve this, individual countries were given the responsibility to set their own targets and goals,…including Korea which said it will reduce its greenhouse emissions by 37-percent by the year 2030. "Through such technologies as renewable energy equipment, energy storing systems, and electric cars, we will develop a 'prosumer' market, where anyone can have the ability to produce and save energy, and sell it freely.
" The term "prosumer" is an amalgamation of the words "producer" and "consumer", where a single individual produces and uses energy by themselves. And one related project has already begun. The first energy prosumer village was launched in Suwon, west of Seoul, last March. "These homes run on those solar panels you see there on the roof. Any electricity left over is either stored or sold to neighbors at a lower price than the national grid." Prosumers are able to sell the electricity they produce at a higher price than they would receive from the national grid, but at the same time, consumers would be buying energy at a cheaper rate, especially for high-energy users, who pay higher costs due to Korea's progressive rate scheme. "It's great that I can save money and sell cheap power to my neighbors. I hope this leads to more people taking solar power in the future." "It helps a lot in the winter and summer, when we use a lot electricity for heating and air conditioning respectively. The progressive rate made it very expensive.
" The government is planning to establish 3-thousand prosumer households by the end of next year, and they are also looking to expand the scheme to schools and apartment buildings. "Currently our energy supply is centralized in nuclear or coal power stations, and it's leading to big consequences in terms of climate change. So if more people were to become prosumers, it would signify a small starting point to help with that global problem." To reach the emission targets, the government has been keen to stress that it cannot be achieved by policy and industry efforts alone. A government backed public campaign launched in 2014 is challenging people to reduce daily greenhouse emissions by one ton a year. To put into perspective, using a reusable bag instead of a plastic one saves 2 and a half kilos of emissions. Cycling to work instead of driving will save almost 500 kilos. By giving specific measurements, the government expects to better inform the public on how to implement eco-friendly measures in everyday life. Meanwhile, the government is making efforts to reduce greenhouse emissions at a national level, but there's still a long way to go.
While levels of CO2 emission per person since 1990 has decreased by 7-percent on average for OECD countries, Korea's level have increased by over a hundred-and-ten percent. "I think the government needs to treat this issue as a crisis, like the IMF financial crisis, so it has to put together strong policies, convince industries to act, and instill in the public the need to change." "The first three months of 2016 were the warmest on record in 136 years, by a large margin. Korea's target of reducing emissions by 37-percent is ambitious but it may be needed to help in the global fight against climate change. Kwon Jang-Ho, Arirang News.".