“Korea imports more than 97% of its energy requirements due to poor domestic resources,” Sung-Chul Shin, of South Korea’s Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy told edie. The Energy Use Rationalization Fund loans will be available to both energy consumers and producers in cases where a business can use funds to reduce energy consumption or improve the efficiency of its generation.

Shin gave the example of companies that produce energy efficient light-bulbs or intend to build cogeneration (combined heat and power) plants as eligible for the loans.

A total of 2.1 trillion Korean Won (approximately US$1.7 billion) has been reserved for energy conservation, with 780 billion Korean Won set aside for assisting specialist energy companies.

“The Government will continue its efforts to reduce the share of oil, which stands at around 55% of the primary energy sources,” said Sung-Chul. The price of oil has risen sharply this year, at the same time as energy consumption has risen as the country’s economic recovery has taken hold. Nuclear electricity generation is one of several energy sectors that are expected to grow as the country attempts to reduce its dependence on oil imports.

South Korea’s energy consumption rose 13.2% from July 1998 to July 1999.

Concerns regarding the impact of the current Asian economic recovery on the South East Asian environment have been voiced by a senior official of the World Conservation Union (IUCN). In Seoul to attend the International Conference of Non-Governmental Organisations, Rachel Kyte, senior multilateral policy advisor for the IUCN said that her group believes that the ecological concerns in the region have reached a crucial stage as the two Koreas and Japan have increased their demands on the region’s resources considerably.

According to the Korea Herald, Kyte stated: “We are watching the trade of lumber between North Korea and China. We are also watching the trade flow of trees cut down in Russia, the two Koreas and China. These areas, in sum, possess the largest forest in the Northern Hemisphere.”

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