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Former Korean envoy calls for support for environmental protection

CEBU CITY, Aug. 28 – Political leadership, public support and technology are needed to succeed in protecting the environment, a former Korean ambassador on climate change said.

”We need a strong leadership and people have to accept (the program) and technology,” said Chung Rae-Kwon, also environment and development division director of the United Nations Economics and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP).

Chung represented ESCAP at the inauguration of the Lahug Science and Technology Complex of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Thursday afternoon.

He cited the example of former London Mayor Ken Livingstone who imposed a fee on people using private cars a year before the elections.

”People thought it was an extra burden, but the impact was good. Pollution was lessened. Traffic flow improved. People thought it was better to take a taxi. Livingstone got elected again,” he said.

”It is an interesting story, but I have not found another example in other countries,” he said.

Chung is a lead author for an Inter-Governmental panel on Climate Change special report on technology transfer. The IPCC received the Nobel Peace Prize together with former United States Vice president Al Gore in 2007.

He said that in Korea, a law requires people to recycle water.

”We can’t simply continue to live the way we lived before. The first reason is that Cebu is running out of fresh water, your water table level is going down. You need a recycling system,” he said.

He said in Uncheon City in Korea, the people created an eco-park planted to only one kind of reed.

”This reed can no longer be seen in Korea. So they converted a wasteland and people come and pay a high price just to see this reed. You can do the same with the tarsier that can only be found in Bohol. The people come to Cebu to get to Bohol,” he said.

The building houses a demo facility for integrated storm water management system, which can recycle rainwater and gray water.

The facility costs at least P1 million, said Chung.

The new DOST 7 Building uses the “green architecture” design, which has an atrium for passive cooling and serves as a showcase for hydrophonics or urban greening.

Chung said the government should lead the way in employing environment-friendly technology.

”The system is expensive. The cost is high in short time basis, but the long term benefit comes in the long run,” he said.

”As to the price gap, when you buy gasoline you only pay for the market price but you are not paying the cost of climate change,” he said.

He was referring to the effect of burning combustion fuel on the atmosphere. Environmentalists discourage using fossil fuel, as this increases the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere, which in turn contributes to global warming or climate change. (PNA) scs/EB/bh

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