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WIREs Energy Environ.
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The rise and fall of green growth: Korea's energy sector experiment and its lessons for sustainable energy policy

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The idea of “green growth” has received international attention for more than a decade as a promising solution to a distinctly modern problem: a century of unparalleled increases in wealth based on equally unparalleled innovations in energy technology accompanied by global environmental threats such as climate change and persistent socioeconomic inequality. The green growth premise is that this problem can be solved without surrendering continued economic growth by a redirection of human effort to invent green energy technology, green energy markets, and green energy choice. Proponents have argued that green‐energy based economic growth represents a paradigm shift bringing forth sustainable and equitable relations between environment, economy, and society. The paper reviews a decade of green energy growth strategies and practices. The Korean Green Growth Initiative (KGGI) is investigated as a case study of green energy growth operationalization. Korea’s experiment was widely hailed by international bodies such as The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) for its bold attempt at paradigm shift, with the hope that, if it succeeded, countries currently on the periphery of modern development would be able to overcome conditions of poverty, environmental degradation, and political dependency. But our analysis of the Korean case questions the idea and ideology of green energy growth, demonstrating instead that KGGI was quickly coopted by the paradigm it was supposed to supplant. In this respect, one contradiction in the strategy and practice of green energy growth has been its promise to change the trajectory of modern development without requiring serious changes in modern values and ideology. This article is categorized under: Energy and Climate > Economics and Policy Energy and Development > Climate and Environment Energy and Development > Economics and Policy
Modern energy paradigm
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Achievement of major targets of Korean GEGNotes: aP means a principle of GEG, b2030 targets for “sites of utility‐scale PV power Plants” and “green jobs” were not proposed in the Korean GEG. cA green job indicator is available only from 2008 to 2015
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Perspective of paradigm shift of the GEGSource: OECD ()
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