Moon calls for shift in energy policy toward sustainable development

SEOUL-- President Moon Jae-in on Tuesday called for a major shift in the country's energy policy to ensure sustainable development, urging closer collaboration among economic and environmental policymakers.

"Industrial and land development cannot achieve sustainable development without considerations for the environment, and environment policies that do not consider the difficulties of development sites and economic realities may become hollow," the president said while meeting with officials from the commerce, land and environment ministries.

During the meeting, held at the government complex in Sejong, located 120 kilometers south of Seoul, the ministries briefed the new president on the key policy objectives. It also involved lengthy discussions on ways to implement such policy goals.

The president said coordination between industrial and environment policies are the key to the energy sector.

"Up until now, the lives and safety of the people have been put in the backseat when establishing and implementing energy policies, while considerations for the environment have also been overlooked," the president said, according to pool reports.

"To build a safe Republic of Korea and keep pace with the global trend, we cannot but have to implement a great shift in our national energy policy that will reduce nuclear and coal-fired power plants, and implement and increase clean, safe future energy," he added.

While campaigning for the presidential election, Moon pledged to turn the country into a nuclear-free nation.

He reaffirmed his policy but said the process will take up to 60 years, dismissing recent claims that the move will cost billions of dollars while also causing a steep rise in electricity prices.

"Our nuclear-free policy is not aimed at shutting down nuclear power plants that are in operation but to stop building new reactors and stop extending the operation of aged reactors whose design life expires. It is a plan we will have no problem in enduring as it will take place gradually over the next 60 years or more," the president said.

South Korea currently operates 24 nuclear reactors that generate roughly 30 percent of its overall power supplies.

The country is also building six more nuclear reactors, two of which the new president earlier promised to scrap.

Moon said he was willing to withdraw or modify his election pledge should an ongoing public survey on the fate of the two nuclear reactors -- Shin-Kori 5 and 6 -- show greater public support for completing the reactors already under construction.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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