This position paper will take on The Republic of Korea’s stance towards the issues of renewable energy and access to education in developing nations
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As more and more resources such as oil and water are being depleted by our unrestricted consumption, it is imperative that the world’s governments establish a plan to implement and develop renewable power sources in an effort to conserve our rapidly dwindling resources. According to calculations made by Gilbert Masters, Stanford Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Emeritus,”…current oil supplies in all nations combined would last the world for only about 41 years”(Stanford University). By continuing to ignore the impending resource crisis, the situation will continue to worsen as our consumption of nonrenewable resources such as gasoline and coal only continue to increase. In fact, the world’s largest consumers, U.S, China, and Japan consume approximately 6.9 billion barrels, 3.8 billion barrels, and 1.6 billion barrels per year respectively. Furthermore, these statistics do not address other non-renewable resources that are quickly at risk of being scarce. When you take in the fact that both renewable and nonrenewable resources such as natural gas, phosphorus, coal, freshwater, farmland, and rare earth elements are under severe pressure and demand and the impact they play on our society, it only further shows the importance of placing an emphasis on developing renewable alternatives to our dwindling supply and raising awareness of this issue to the world’s governments. Thus, South Korea is very eager to help address this issue by collaborating with other nations in help find and implement renewable alternatives as well as raise awareness of the issue to the public.
The topic of implementing and utilizing renewable power sources is not a recent one. An UN resolution at the sixty-sixth session of the General Assembly(A/RES/66/206) stated, “As global development challenges continue to be undertaken, it is increasingly recognized that provision of adequate energy services has a multiplier effect on health, education, transport, telecommunications, and water availability and sanitation. Consequently, energy is an important factor for achieving the Millennium Development Goals.” The report by the Secretary-General identified the reasons as to why a greater reliance on new and renewable sources of energy is needed. He cited climate change, limited natural resources, rapid increase in energy demand, and the loss of biodiversity. His proposed solution was to encourage more countries to invest in clean energy and to use a “menu of policy incentives” to motivate companies to fund renewable sources. However, despite the support from the EU, U.S, China, Republic of Korea, Japan, etc. the solution proposed in the resolution had to consider many factors that would render it ineffective. Factors such as developing nations and their reliance on nonrenewable power sources due to the expensive investment needed to construct and develop power sources within their country and the long-term approach of the plan in that a country needs to continue to fund and implement new renewable energy sources for years in order for a significant impact to be made.
For South Korea, the development of renewable sources of energy is of high priority in the country. As a nation that imports nearly all of its oil needs and is the second-largest importer of liquefied natural gas in the world(LNG World News), a resource crisis would cripple our nation’s economy if we continue to disregard the issue. Along with that, the main source of electricity which accounts for than two thirds of production comes from conventional thermal power which results in the country’s high demand for coal and fossil fuels. Yet, the country lacks an abundant coal supply and the small reserves that it does have is of low quality and insufficient. Because of the low supply and high demand, South Korea’s government in response its energy crisis and rising electricity rates has decided to implement and initiate a nuclear energy program. The government sees its heavy dependence on imported fossil fuels as “disadvantageous” and has stated at the Paris Climate Conference that it would cut “…its emissions by at least 37% by 2030”(NRDC). So far, The Republic of Korea announced that a bilateral nuclear deal had been approved between the U.S in June 2015, in that the U.S would provide resources and funding for South Korea’s nuclear expansion such as “…the addition of a mechanism to enable South Korea to enrich uranium, use spent fuel for research purposes, and take advantage of additional disposal options, along with leaving the door open to research on pyroprocessing(a method that reduces the amount of radioactive waste generated from nuclear energy)”(Science Diplomacy) in exchange for meeting with the United States’ strategic necessities. Overall, the Republic of Korea has formally addressed the rising threat of the declining supply of renewable and nonrenewable resources and has begun to utilize renewable power sources such as nuclear and geothermal power plants in an effort to meet and exceed the Paris Climate Conference’s goals.
Although, there have been many solutions developed to address renewable energy, it seems as if many do not address the costs of implementing renewable energy and the difficulty for developing nations to invest in clean energy. For developed countries such as the Republic of Korea, the costs of renewable energy are not a problem and its openness to other nations makes it so that it can easily establish economic ties with others. Due to the resources and technology that are available to developed nations, the solution shouldn’t be focused on simply promoting renewable sources of energy. Instead, developed nations should be directly funding nations rather than focusing on building a renewable energy plan for themselves. While having developed nations directly fund third-world countries can help alleviate the economic stress associated with renewable energy, it simply isn’t enough as the infrastructure needed to utilize these sources require years of planning and competition. For instance, the acquisition of land for the purpose of constructing wind farms, power plants, etc. can be met with opposition from companies and consumers who see the high cost in developing these sources of energy as a factor that outweighs the benefits of the renewable energy. Not only that, but many renewable projects and companies are small-scale and the lack of resources therefore results in expensive funding but a negligible impact overall on factors such as the country’s carbon footprint. Therefore, another proposed solution could be the use of a program similar to that of the U.S.A’s Clean Energy Incentive Program(CEIP) and the UN-Desa Grant. It encourages the funding of renewable energy sources by rewarding early investments made in renewable energy or reducing energy demand in carbon emissions and other greenhouse gases. By offering an incentive to support renewable energy, it persuades companies to place more emphasis in developing more renewable sources of energy which allows low-income nations to be able to implement these sources of energy when they had been previously unable to due to economic barriers, job shortages, and low energy costs to consumers that have now been alleviated by companies who are now motivated to pursue clean energy due to the incentives that are available to them when they do so.
One of the biggest barriers in developing nations is the lack of education and institutions that exist within the countries. According to the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, it states that, “Around the world, some 57 million children of primary school age do not attend school. More than half of these children live in sub-Saharan Africa, and more than 20 per cent in South and West Asia. Fifty-four per cent of the children who do not attend school are girls.”. As stated in both the UN Charter and in Article 26 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights, “ Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory”(Article 26). The importance of education cannot be stressed enough, especially as the world increasingly becomes more and more interconnected. Education allows one to learn how to collaborate allows one to acquire the skills needed to function in society, and serve as an opportunity for both economically and socially marginalized children and adults to lift themselves out of poverty and participate fully as citizens.
The UN Declaration of Human Rights had explicitly stated that education is a human right. Thus, there have been many resolutions pertaining to the topic of addressing developing countries and their needed assistance in funding education. An UN resolution at the fifty-seventh session of the General Assembly(A/RES/56/116) stated that one of its goals of the Dakar Framework for Action include, “Ensuring that by 2015 all children, particularly girls, children in difficult circumstances and those belonging to ethnic minorities, have access to and complete, free and compulsory primary education of good quality.” Thus, the proposed solution was to help fund developing countries’ education infrastructure and to have other nations emphasize their foreign aid programs on education. The Education for All’s goals overall were somewhat fulfilled as while additional funding was able to be secured to establish educational institutions, UNESCO has stated fifteen years later since the implementation that there are still “58 million children without access to primary school.”(BBC) Therefore, the overall solution was ineffective for failing to acquire the minimum funds to meet the goal of placing every child in a primary school and factors such as conflict that prevented the construction of schools.
As a country that views education as a fundamental cornerstone in South Korean life, the issue of assisting developing nations with developing an education infrastructure is one that the country is willing to address. The Republic of Korea’s foreign aid program has donated about 1.91 billion in development aid to developing countries to support their economical development so that the establishment of educational institutions can be effectively facilitated. The country is encouraging citizens that helping assist vulnerable nations in need of programs such as education is our duty as global citizens and is only more necessary as the world becomes more and more interconnected and secular.
Following the failure of the Education for All plan to meet its goals by 2015, it is essential that a readjustment and alternative solution be established as soon as possible. The Republic of Korea hosted the Incheon Declaration in 2015 that established the Education 2030 plan which addressed the issues of the original Education plan and planned out the next fifteen years to address the issue in a more realistic manner. To address the funding gap issue that existed in the original plan, a possible solution could be through the use of a “humanitarian tax”. As controversial as this solution may be, an UN appointed panel has stated that, “The world needs $40 billion each year to meet the needs of those affected by wars and natural disasters and already faces a shortfall of $15 billion for this year. Those needs are expected to grow;”(New York Times). Not only that but the panel has also pointed out that, “…despite the growing needs, what the world needs to pony up for emergency relief is a fraction of the $78 trillion global economy.”(New York Times). Thus, it seems as if the only way to effectively acquire the needed funding for a developing nation’s education infrastructure in a world whose generosity is insufficient is to make it a compulsory fee in order to continue to support the plan of making education accessible to every individual in developing nations.
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