Korean Lawmaker Calls for Northeast Asian Environmental Governance
Korean Representative Choo Mi-ae, former chairwoman of the Korean House Environment and Labor Committee, recently published an editorial in the Korea Times arguing for cohesive environmental governance in Northeast Asia.
Rep. Choo makes the point that environmental issues in Northeast Asia are not restricted by national borders. Every spring, Korea must contend with “yellow dust,” a microdust originating in China that pollutes the atmosphere and contaminates rainfall. And the tsunami that struck Japan in March, 2011 had potentially devastating implications for the Korean population, as nuclear contamination could have spread through the atmosphere or through agricultural imports.
Rep. Choo notes that Korea has passed a number of domestic environmental laws. She also emphasizes the environmental safeguards built into the recent Free Trade Agreement Korea signed with the United States. However, as a bilateral trade agreement, the FTA is not regional in scope, and it is not primarily concerned with environmental protection.
Instead, Rep. Choo calls for expanding the environmental governance regime in Northeast Asia. Though NOWPAP (Northwest Pacific Action Plan) and UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) are currently operating in the region, she holds up the European Environmental Agency (EEA) as a model to emulate. Regional cooperation with multilateral agencies can provide governance over crucial environmental issues. Though it will be politically difficult, environmental governance in Northeast Asia can be strengthened.
Rep. Choo Mi-ae is a member of the opposition Democratic Party in the Republic of Korea. She is a graduate of Hanyan University and earned her masters in economics at Yonsei University. She has been serving as a representative since 1996.