As it focused on rapid industrialization and accelerated economic growth, Korea had little leisure to worry about environmentally sustainable growth, with severe consequences: Korea is one of the top ten carbon dioxide emitters, and ranks 51st on the Yale Environmental Performance Index—measuring environmental sustainability in 146 countries. Even though the environment may have been sacrificed to accomplish the “Miracle on the Han River,” Koreans have never ceased to be great admirers and keen
observers of nature: legions of hikers climbing up steep mountain trails are a trademark of weekend outings in Korea, and leaf peeping during Korea’s spectacular fall foliage is almost a national sport.
Korea’s current commitment to Green Growth relates to the concern over the environment, which Koreans fundamentally share, but chose to put on the back burner for decades. This green pledge was articulated in President Lee Myung-bak’s New Green Growth Formula, summarized in his August 15, 2008 address on the 60th Anniversary of the Republic of Korea. Noting that, after the agricultural, industrial, and information revolution, the world is about to enter the age of an environmental revolution, President Lee presented low carbon Green Growth as a “new national development paradigm” that will create new growth engines and jobs in the 21st century, with the advent of green technology and clean energy.