Japan, South Korea Plan Green Investments for Economic Growth

NEW YORK, New York, January 12, 2009 (ENS) – Japan and South Korea each have announced that they will invest billions of dollars in green projects to create jobs and spur economic growth, in what the United Nations says is the latest sign that its Green New Deal is gaining momentum.

Japan has announced a program aimed at stimulating the economy by promoting measures to curb global warming. Measures announced by Environment Minister Tetsuo Saito Thursday aim to expand the green business market and create up to one million new jobs.

Saito said measures include zero-interest rate loans for environmentally-friendly companies and promotion of the purchase of vehicles and housing with low carbon dioxide emissions.

Wind turbines on the west coast of Hokkaido, Japan, north of Rumoi City (Photo by Bill Bauer courtesy NREL)

Saito said Japan seeks to expand the environment business market to US$11 billion and increase jobs in the environmental field to 2.2 million by 2015. The ministry is set to compile the program by the end of March.

South Korea will invest $US38 billion over the next four years in a series of eco-friendly projects to create 960,000 new jobs and lay the groundwork for economic growth.

The 36 Korean projects include the creation of green transport networks, the provision of two million energy-saving green homes and the cleanup of the country’s four main rivers.

In October, the UN Environment Programme launched the Global Green New Deal and Green Economy Initiative as both an antidote to current economic woes and as a springboard to a low carbon, low impact, high job generating and better-managed global economy.

UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said, “Investments in clean-tech and renewable energy; infrastructure such as railways and cycle tracks and nature-based services like river systems and forests, can not only counter recession and unemployment but can also set the stage for more sustainable economic recovery and growth in the 21st century.”

“UNEP’s Global Green New Deal and Green Economy initiative are clearly two ideas whose time has come, as evidenced by the Republic of Korea and Japan’s stimulus package announcements alongside those of other key economies and leaders from China to the president-elect of the United States,” he added.

Steiner said the announcements responded to the call by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in Poznan, Poland last month where he outlined a Global Green New Deal as the best chance for securing a sound and solid international climate agreement in Copenhagen in next December. The agreement would replace the current Kyoto Protocol which expires at the end of 2012.

The move by Japan and South Korea – two of Asia’s major economies – follows U.S. President-elect Barack Obama’s plans to implement a multi-billion clean energy program during his presidency in a bid to create millions of jobs.

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