South Korea is aiming to create a million 'green jobs' over the next four years, in an ambitious move to lead the region in green technology.
Presenter: Sen Lam
Simon Divecha, the Director of GreenMode
DIVECHA: You have to say it's a very impressive amount of spending they're putting into it, so what they've done is directed their stimulus spending in response to the global financial crisis to green growth. There's about $US38.5 billion of investment going into a range of areas, including rivers, forests, clean transport and bikeways, green homes and neighbourhoods. So it's a significant effort and a significant amount of money to jump-start a greener economy.
LAM: Indeed and in comparison Australia's efforts seem quite paltry. I understand that globally nearly 16 per cent of economic stimulus expenditure goes to such green initiatives, and in China it's almost 30 per cent. Why is Australia spending just 9 per cent on green stimulus measures?
DIVECHA: Well you'd have to see that there's an opportunity to do more and one of the things that I think that is really highlighted by the Korean trip is how much a country like Korea sees its opportunity for green jobs and green growth in driving exports and reformatting for the future. So in Korea for example it equates about a million green jobs from that spending, and it also leverages a lot of other investment with JP Morgan for example just announcing they're setting up funds for $US1 billion to invest in Korean solar LEDs and green cars. In Australia I think we have a range and a package of measures and it's really quite important to get them in place. So it's not just the stimulus spending of course, but it would be from our perspective good to see that as a far bigger proportion of our overall stance.
LAM: And I understand that you were particularly taken with the tidal plant off the coast of Uldolmok. Can you tell us a bit about that?
DIVECHA: Sure the tidal plant is currently the world's largest tidal plant and will be when it's completed in 2010. It will produce a significant amount of power for about 60 per cent of the cost of what that power would have been generated if it was coming from for example wind. And importantly it's taking advantage of an existing infrastructure. There was already an embankment there that was there to implement a land reclamation project which never happened. So the environmental downside of this tidal plant is very minimal, it's [a] positive benefit. It's also the tidal plant's a great example of a clean development mechanism from Kyoto actually working. So what happens is that western countries had setup the clean development mechanism as a way of progressing low carbon growth in non-oeCD countries at the time, which Korea was when Kyoto started. And this tidal plant is a result of that program.
LAM: So could this sort of energy generation be used elsewhere in Asia?
DIVECHA: Absolutely there's a wide range of opportunities for all types of renewable technology. Tidal is perhaps, tidal plants like the one that we visited is perhaps something that is appropriate in specific circumstances and not all circumstances, but many of the other Korean initiatives such as its focus on wind, its focus on solar and also stationary hydrogen fuel cells are things that are directly relevant for a wide range of countries, including Australia.
LAM: And just briefly Simon might all this be a potential business opportunity for Australia?
DIVECHA: It's a very major business opportunity for both countries. I mean clearly, the ability to identify an opportunity such as green growth, focus an entire economic sector on it and across the country and then deliver, has been demonstrated in Korea. We were amazed at the scale of development that has occurred over the last 30 years and the way that Korea and the government could align its national policy with the delivery from across the country and across industry sectors. In Australia there's a great range of creativity and also some significant multicultural links to offer, I think there's potential, very large benefits from collaborating, not just for Australia but for looking at what we can do across the Asia Pacific.