LIM Dae-woong has a job that will be familiar to an increasing number of Australians. As a carbon consultant, Mr Lim is in hot demand from governments and businesses scrambling to prepare for coming emissions constraints, and from investors on the scent of big profits in emerging markets.
And, as with Australia, South Korea is nearing the starting blocks when it comes to setting targets for curbing greenhouse gases, and laying groundwork for carbon trading.
Some wins can be had, even for small companies such as Eco-Frontier, which employs about 90 staff. It teamed up with London-based Climate Change Capital to outbid Japan’s Mitsubishi and Mitsui to secure carbon credits gained from cutting output of the potent greenhouse gas HFC23 at a Chinese plant. The plant will now reduce its annual carbon dioxide emissions by 4.25 million tonnes and deliver a 100% return on investment.
The plant in Malaysia will burn oil palm residue, which would otherwise rot and release methane gas. The $100 million plant would have a payback period of seven to nine years, a rate that will be cut by about half once the derived carbon credits are sold.
In Mr Lim’s experience, companies — Korean or otherwise — tend to treat environment issues as cost issues, rather than profit opportunities. “Many people in the environment departments just hide,” he said.