Seoul: on course to be one of the world's greenest cities?
Despite the disappointment of COP15 in Copenhagen last year, and wary expectation for COP16 in Cancun this year, delegates at the latest G20 (Group of 20 major economies) meeting in Seoul earlier this month, reaffirmed their commitment to fighting climate change. World leaders there said they would 'spare no effort to reach a balanced and successful outcome in Cancun'.
Had they taken note of their surroundings, they would have seen what can be achieved with a little political will and some genuine commitment to the environment. By redesigning its road layout and revamping its public transport systems, the South Korean capital is now bidding to become one of the greenest cities in the world.
It's certainly come a long way since the 1960s and 1970s, when South Korea went through an industrial boom that took it from being the second-poorest nation in the UN to one of the richest. The sudden increase in its wealth did not come without consequences, however, and in the early 1980s people began to notice the impact that this economic growth was having on the environment.
Over the past decade South Korea, and particularly the capital city Seoul, has taken drastic steps to try to reduce the amount of pollution it creates and to curb its reliance on fossil fuels. This has involved taking small steps and attempting to re-educate a money-fixated culture. Seeing large roads and old buildings being demolished in the capital, not all South Koreans have agreed with what is happening in Seoul, but slowly its citizens are beginning to reap the benefits, as the health and economic benefits of turning their heavily polluted city into a green haven become apparent.