Carbon Taxes for a Low-Carbon Korea?

Around eighteen months ago I was busy writing articles on climate change and the impending catastrophes that may well ensue. Most of this work was well intentioned and I think essentially sound in terms of common sense. However, I was wrong on a few key issues. Essentially, what I was and am interested in is mostly in regard to self-sufficiency, is a return to understanding nature as our essential provider, and the earth as bread basket, with local schemes toward recycling as a great way toward using less resources and cycling, particularly in terms of its health benefits. Yet, this does not seem too appealing beyond the local government level. Rejecting corporations for local markets also doesn’t get much interest.

Meanwhile the world is moving on and climate change has without doubt ‘arrived’ in Korea if what we read in the newspapers and popular journals is true. The Learning Times (a branch of the Korea Times, aimed at providing news for young adults and teens), in an article written on the 9th September last year, states:

Already, southern coastal areas of the Korean Peninsula are undergoing a “subtropicalization’’ process in terms of average annual temperatures and regional fauna and flora. The report by the Climate Change Information Center said this will move up to central parts of the peninsula by 2070, which is within the life expectancy of most teenagers now. Seoul could become quite a bit like the southernmost resort city of Jeju.

It looks like young reporters have gotten the message that those like Al Gore had been telling me back in early 2007. But am I so sure of that climate thesis now?

Back on the policy front The Korea Times, a few months ago, announced more schemes to tackle the problem, complete with pictures of Lee Myung Bak cycling through a new development scheme in Changwon, expressing an aim to make Korea a leading manufacturer of bicycles within the next five years.

Going back awhile, in another article for the Korea Times dated 22nd October 2008 the reporter Kim Hyun-cheol states that:

Chong Wa Dae has recently confirmed a list of 40 new administrative strategy agenda, which includes substitution of a carbon tax with the current transportation tax, the Chosun Ilbo, a Korean daily, reported Thursday.

This is incredibly important to consider. Government aims to substitute the existing ‘transportation tax’ as a new ‘carbon tax’. The article predicts that Korea will be implementing carbon taxes for citizens in 2010. In what form, however, we have still to find out. The article goes on to state:

Most revenues of the tax amounting to an annual 11 trillion won ($10.4 billion) will be the financial source for the “Low Carbon, Green Growth” scheme, which was announced in President Lee Myung-bak’s speech marking the nation’s 63rd Liberation Day last week.

Clearly there is an incredible amount of money to be made from the implementation of these taxes, both inside Korea and globally. We need only go online to see industry leaders like David Rockefeller telling us the incredible dangers that threaten our biosphere. The same Korea Times article emphasizes this:

A carbon tax is imposed on emissions of greenhouse gases including carbon dioxide. The direct taxation system is now applied to several European countries, such as Sweden, the Netherlands and Norway, as well as several states in North America.

However, of late, I’ve begun to wonder where all the localized encouragement on carbon cutting has gone, and why it has been replaced by laws which will infringe civil liberties. What, really, did the international anthropogenic climate change lobby mean for Korea, and the rest of the world’s civilians? To uphold democracy surely there is something wrong with the introduction of carbon taxes, regardless of whether certain countries had signed up to them?

Then I stumble upon information that surprises me. An article with the headline 31,000 Signatures Prove ‘No Consensus’ About Global Warming in which Arthur B. Robinson, president and professor of chemistry at the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine in the U.S, one of these 31,000 scientists, states:

World temperatures fluctuate all the time,” said Robinson. “The temperature of the Earth has risen many times, far more times than carbon dioxide could drive it. There is no experimental evidence that humans are changing the environment…

31,000 certainly is a large number compared to the purported 2,500 adherents to the global warming lobby endorsed by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change. Could it be that the environmental wave I and many others were riding a while back was actually hijacked by a movement whose main intention was to make global taxes a top priority… rather than helping people be aware of the environment, recycle, re-use and change their own lives, as citizens of democratic nations?

The one thing that fundamentally joins one country to the rest of the world, in this case, Korea… is the weather. If there were powers that be that DID want to introduce more taxes across all international boundaries Global warming would be a very good way to do it.

So I return to the think tank quoted in the Learning Times piece for September last year; the Climate Change Information Center, to do some research.

It turns out that the Climate Change Information Center is part of a global environmental conservation think tank named BGCI (which stands for Botanic Gardens Conservation International) which has a head office in London, and offices in China, Russia, Singapore, the U.S.A, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands. BGCI specializes in plant protection and education, particularly ‘reaching young audiences’ and ‘taking a lead on the problem of climate change’. BGCI is funded by a number of corporate partners that include Boeing, British Airways, HSBC, Mitsubishi and Standard Chartered Bank. Incidentally, Standard Chartered Bank is a large corporate bank like HSBC which in turn, owns many other banks throughout the world, particularly throughout Asia (it bought up Korea First Bank back in 2005) which is also one of the biggest investors in Dubai’s current corporate complex.

At this point, though, the reader may ask why a lowly environmental conservation group is funded by two of the largest private banks on the planet along with two global industry leaders in aviation (surely a few brownie points knocked off for carbon emissions?)

Just to add salt to the wound we also find that Beth Rothschild, member of one of the most infamous banking families in modern history (whose bank N.M Rothschild & Son is now allied with Samsung, with a joint office in Seoul) sits on BGCI’s board of directors.

In light of this the reader might very well ask the question, as I now do, why a high finance-funded organisation like BGCI is so keen for young audiences world-wide to battle man-made climate change? Could it be that the banks have something to gain from producing young lobbyists for the global implementation of carbon taxes?

If we give heed to the notion that it is not governments, but private banks, that have something to gain from additional taxes we may well ask why these taxes (whether under the moniker of ‘transportation tax’ or not) are increasing while we, as citizens, are getting poorer due to the prolonged global financial crisis.

The larger question, also, may be: how do we encourage genuine scientific enquiry among students if institutions are pressured by think tanks like BGCI to be on-message before the study books are even opened?

Andrew O’Donnell, March 2010

3. Sources

With those new agenda added, the government will soon unveil a new list of 100 domestic governing projects, the newspaper added.

One Response to “Carbon Taxes for a Low-Carbon Korea?”
  1. koreamaria says:

    Thanks for sharing, Andrew. I am trying to figure out how I can reduce my own carbon dioxide footprint without suicide, but even then cremation or natural decay will still add to my carbon contribution to the planet. I am just so disgusted that we have so much knowledge, yet still are caught up in the discourse of astroturfing instead of a healthy way of talking about being green that is not co-opted by business transactional mentalities.

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