North Korea is showing great interest in the green industry that pursues both environmental conservation and economic development. Recently, North Korea is stressing the importance of pollution prevention for the construction of a powerful nation, such as research and development in solar and wind renewable energies, and recycling. In addition, it is establishing legal framework to support it.
The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on September 2, 2013 a new renewable energy law was adopted at the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly. The news reported the law addressed the principle problems in the development and usage of renewable energy. In August last year, the Environmental Protection Act was amended which added the use of renewable energy development, environmental certification system, and recycling technology to the regulations.
According to the news, Renewable Energy Act entails these following components: 1) definition and mission of renewable energy, 2) research and development of renewable energy resources, 3) basic principles in the usage, 4) planning and encouraging the development of renewable energy, 5) enforcement of the materials and technical sectors of renewable energy, and 6) legal requirements to guide the renewable energy sector projects. The Act consists of six chapters and 46 clauses.
The mission of the law is to encourage the development and use of renewable energy and invigorate the renewable energy industry by enabling the sustainable development of economy and improve people’s living standards and contribute to environmental protection.
In addition, the news reported that the law in the field of renewable energy must “strengthen the material and technical foundation for the development of the renewable energy industry and the state is responsible for systematical advancement of investment in renewable energy.”
In addition, the law also included provisions that stressed international cooperation and assistance from other countries and international organizations for the exchange and cooperation for the development of the renewable energy sector. The news provided details that included provisions, “the institutions, enterprises and organizations of the renewable energy sectors must conduct scientific research in renewable energy,” “research plan for renewable energy resources will be established by national planning agencies and the state planning agencies should develop renewable energy resources plans according to the environmental conditions and energy demand and based on the current status of renewable energy technology.”
The news also added that the Renewable Energy Act introduced the basic requirements, development, and objectives of the law. It emphasized hydro, wind, solar, marine, and biological energies are clean energy resources that do not affect the environment, and also promote the construction of powerful socialist economy. It also claimed North Korea must actively seek strategies to industrialize renewable energy that reflect realistic conditions.
Since 2003, a comprehensive agricultural management method was piloted in Suan County of North Hwanghae Province. From last year, this method was introduced in other regions to be administered nationwide.
An official from DPRK’s Ministry of Land and Environmental Protection gave an interview with the KCNA on June 17 and “from this year a comprehensive agricultural management method is being introduced in many regions and until now 100,000 jungbo or 991,735,537 square meters of forest area has increased,” he said.
Comprehensive agricultural management method is explained as “a new forestry management method to improve the ecological environment and protection of land as well as cultivate various species of trees in forests and crops, herbs, and grass that combine farming and livestock raising to increase production of lumber, crops, livestock, and mountain fruits.”
In the past, majority of forests were destroyed during the time of extreme food and firewood shortage food. To repair the damage, planting crops in forests became an urgent matter and from 2003, comprehensive agricultural management method was adopted in Suan County of North Hwanghae Province and other areas that had favorable conditions that were environmentally safe and socially beneficial.
According to the Ministry of Land and Environmental Protection, “the survival and growth rate of trees improved drastically as people began to use forest lands more efficiently. In this regard, a national policy for comprehensive agricultural management method was introduced across the country from last year.” Various local organizations were established on the city, state, and county levels of people’s committees as they learned to administer the new comprehensive management method.
A seminar was held in Pyongyang on July 29, 2008 on the topic of comprehensive agricultural management method. This was funded by the Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC). Swiss government at the time was transferring know-how and technology for raising cabbage, corn, and other crops as well as pest control, crop rotation, slope farming, and other related skills.
The KCNA reported that at this event, “various national, regional and global environmental problems were addressed and specific actions were being taken to protect food security and ensure the improvement of people’s lives,” said Choe Sang-ho, director of the Ministry of Land and Environmental Protection.
The news elaborated on the notion and practical necessity for the comprehensive agricultural management method and state policy to promote research and education to develop the slope farming and disseminate the comprehensive agricultural management method and technology development in this area.
The participants at this seminar discussed the need to expand international exchanges to cooperation to strengthen and distribute comprehensive farming management by eco-regions and also visited the pilot unit in Suan County.
The dam was also featured on the North Korean evening news on 2012-9-28, however, it appears to be known domestically as the “Kumya-gang Power Station No. 2 (금야강2호발전소)”. You can see it here at the 3:36 mark:
Between January and July this year Dandong customs have confiscated 137 bottles of tiger bone wine, five bears’ gall bladders weighing 172 grams and five boxes of powdered bears’ gall bladders weighing 50 grams.
It gave no further details but said such confiscations have increased with the growing numbers of Chinese tourists visiting North Korea. It noted that under China’s law on trade in endangered species traffickers can be fined or in more serious cases face criminal proceedings.
North Korea is known to have been involved in rhino horn smuggling in Africa and tiger bone wine is available in tourist shops in North Korea where it is popular with Chinese visitors on account of its alleged aphrodisiac properties. But it is not clear how much, if any, tiger bone the wine actually contains, or where it is derived from.
There is strong demand for bile from bears’ gall bladders throughout East Asia, with large numbers of bears being farmed for this purpose in China and South Korea, although the governments of both countries say the industry is coming under increasingly strict control. Little is known about bear farms in North Korea.
[U]nder the terms of the [Kyoto] protocol, North Korea, as a developing country and a member of the United Nations, has the right to build clean energy projects that may apply for Certified Emission Reductions, or CERs, popularly known as carbon credits. The North Koreans can then sell them to a rich country or company that needs the credits to offset its own greenhouse gases. Dig into data from the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change, and you will find seven North Korean projects registered for carbon trading.
This is where Miroslav Blazek comes in. Blazek, director of Czech company Topic Energo, acts as a link between North Korea and potential carbon credit buyers. He says his experience as manager of a tractor factory in socialist-era Czechoslovakia is invaluable for doing business with the communist North Koreans. “I can work with them because I understand how their system works,” he says. “If I send an e-mail and still don’t have a reply in several days, I know it’s not because they didn’t see it but because it had to work its way through the chain of command. For me it’s like a trip down memory lane.”
North Korea is now building seven hydroelecrtric plants, which provide some of the cleanest energy going. Most can earn tradable carbon credits. Blazek says the North Koreans “jumped” at the opportunity to get into carbon trading: “They immediately grasped that this is a way to make money.” Korea’s seven dams may generate as many as 241,000 CERs a year, worth almost €1 million ($1.3 million). “The projects are already in a relatively advanced phase,” says Ondrej Bores, director of carbon advisory services at Virtuse Energy in Prague, who’s worked with Blazek on other deals.
Still, selling anything made in North Korea has its challenges. More than 30 potential buyers pulled out because of the U.S. embargo on trade with North Korea. Blazek finally struck a deal with a Chinese-controlled conglomerate that needs credits to offset emissions from facilities in Europe. He won’t name the company, citing a confidentiality clause.
UPDATE 8 (2012-2-14): I have been notified that the certification program is proceeding. From a reader:
There has been a statement by the 1718 committee (on sanctions) that CDM projects in NK do not violate UN rules.
[Seven] hydropower plants did get their validation and underwent a process of “clarifications and corrections” as foreseen by UN rules. After the final report (which might have been already issued or might be issued soon) they will go for final vote to the UNFCCC.
Currently, North Korea works on projects as diverse as methane gas from coal mines, biogas and electricity-saving light bulbs.
UPDATE 6 (2011-7-11): It looks like none of the DPRK power stations have been approved by the UNFCC for the CDM program as of this date. A reader notes:
[I] just searched through the entire CDM database with the category numbers for these projects, and as far as I can see none of these has got beyond validation phase['s] comments phase, and judging by some of the comments – “It is evident from the PDD [Project Design Document] that the values are consistent and it is definitely forged and cooked up values to show a non CDM project as a CDM project” – being one of the more polite, that I’d be amazed if they make it beyond that. [It] looks like the DPRK hasn’t got its environmental and managerial audit systems quite up to date yet.
UPDATE 5 (2011-7-11): I just checked the UNFCC web page, and it appears that in addition to the hydro power plants mentioned below, the North Koreans also submitted the “Energy Efficiency Improvement Project in Pyongyang Textile Factory” [sic] for carbon offsets on May 23, 2011. According to the UNFCC web page, the project is in the portfolio of the Carbon-Trade Division, GBCIO, Ministry of Foreign Trade.
UPDATE 4 (2011-7-11): DPRK begins construction of Ryesonggang Power Stations 3 and 4
Pictured above (Google Earth): Ryesonggang Youth Power Stations 1, 2, and 6 (례성강청년발전소).
I have not had the time to pinpoint the exact locations of these power stations using Google Earth. Since the imagery is older, it will take some time to match up the mountain contours. However, we have a general idea where they are located: between the Ryesonggang Power Stations 2 and 6. These are mapped out in the image at the top of this post. The satellite imagery is of Thosan (토산군) and Kumchon (금천군) counties.
Since I have a job, am in graduate school, am a landlord, and running this web page, I have not had time to follow up with the UNFCC to see if they have approved these projects for the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). If there is an enterprising journalist or reader who cares to find out the answer, please let me know.
UPDATE 3 (3/23/2011): According to the UNFCC web page (select Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in the “Host Party” box), these are the eight power stations that have been submitted for consideration:
The UNFCC web page does not mention the locations, size, or power generation capacity for most of the dams, but I am sure that information will trickle out over time. With the exception of the Kumya Power Station (See satellite image below), none of these facilities are visible on Google Earth–but related facilities are: the Paektusan Power Station 1 (See satellite image below) and Ryesonggang Power Station 1, 2, 6 (See satellite image below). The Hamhung Power Stations are probably in or near Hamhung, and the Wonsangumin project is probably near Wonsan.
And according to an email from the UNFCC:
This list contains all the projects which have already started and for which a notification of CDM prior consideration has been submitted. This notification is necessary to prove that the incentive of the CDM was a decisive factor for taking up the project when a project has started before a project design document (PDD) has been published for global stakeholder consultation or a new methodology in connection with the project has been submitted. However, kindly note that these projects have not yet entered the CDM project cycle as lined out in the CDM rules, requirements and procedures, and to submission for registration has yet been made.
Further details on the CDM project cycle are available here: http://cdm.unfccc.int/Projects/diagram.html
More information will be added here as time passes.
UPDATE 2 (3/11/2011): The DPRK has apparently registered eight power plants with the UNFCC. According to Reuters:
North Korea has registered eight hydroelectric plants with the United Nations, and if approved, could allow the world’s most reclusive state to sell carbon offsets to earn precious hard currency.
These hydropower projects were registered with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) for prior consideration in getting carbon credits, some of which have a capacity of 20 megawatts, the UNFCCC website showed.
Prior consideration is the first step for accreditation toward the U.N.’s Clean Development Mechanism that allows developing countries to earn tradeable carbon credits for emissions from clean-energy projects.
Bernhard Seliger, a messenger for North Korean officials on these projects, said the United Nations uploaded the information on Thursday after he submitted related forms on behalf of the North Korean government’s carbon trade division in late February.
“I have no idea when the U.N. makes a decision… North Korea has to finish the power plants, which up to now are only half-finished dams,” Seliger, Hanns Seidel Foundation’s representative in South Korea, told Reuters via email.
Analysts questioned the demand for carbon credits from North Korea, concerned the money might be siphoned off to nuclear arms or other military projects.
North Korea hopes to earn much-needed hard currency by selling UN-backed carbon offsets from a series of hydro-power projects, as the country faces sanctions over its nuclear weapons programme.
If approved and registered by the UN, these would be the first projects for North Korea under a scheme called the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). This allows developing countries to earn tradeable carbon credits for emissions reductions from clean-energy projects.
Some analysts questioned the demand for carbon credits from North Korea, with fears the money might be siphoned off to nuclear arms or other military projects.
The government has asked the Hanns Seidel Foundation of Germany, which focuses on humanitarian issues, to act as a go-between by working with UN-approved verification agency TUV Nord.
According to Bernhard Seliger, the foundation’s representative in South Korea, North Korea is initially looking at trying to get approval for three hydro power plants of 7-8 megawatts (MW).
Seliger visited the three hydro-plant construction sites in the north-east corner of the country in January.
In a statement, TUV Nord confirmed the foundation had engaged their services.
“In this respect, TUV Nord intends to verify hydropower dams in North Korea once pre-registered with United Nations framework conventions on climate change [UNFCCC] via the Beijing branch of its Chinese subsidiary TUV Nord Guangzhou,” it said.
If registered, the plants could yield millions of euros over several years.
Beijing-based lawyer Tom Luckock, who specialises in projects that curb greenhouse gas emissions, estimated that an 8 MW hydro plant could yield about 23,000 UN offsets a year.
The offsets, called Certified Emissions Reductions (CERs), are generated from registered CDM projects, such as wind farms, that are rewarded for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The offsets currently trade at nearly €12 (£10) each and are bought by governments in rich nations that need to meet UN emissions reduction targets.
Europe is the biggest buyer, with large polluting firms allowed to buy the offsets to meet a portion of their emissions reduction targets under the EU’s emissions trading scheme.
“Finding ways to secure foreign currency is the priority for North Korea, which is linked to everything from food to raw material imports to boost reduced productivity,” said Cho Myung-chul, a senior researcher at the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy.
Seliger said North Korea, which signed the UN’s Kyoto Protocol climate pact in 2005, was also interested in biomass power generation projects under the CDM.
The UN-approved national agency that assesses and approves CDM projects in North Korea was not available for comment.
Questions remained on demand for North Korean CERs.
“Even if they open up, who in the world wants to pay for North Korea that is blamed for its nuclear weapons programme?” said Choi Soo-young, a senior researcher at the Korea Institute for National Unification.
Cho said the UN needed to prevent outside cash going into its nuclear development activities, while Luckock, of global law firm Norton Rose, said: “Their limited access to hard currency has to be a concern for buyers – the damages clauses will carry limited weight without some security there.”
Another challenge is that North Korea would have to make public its energy consumption and generation data and disclose information on the amount of energy linked to the hydro project.
“Annual inspection, constant measurement and energy flow posting on the [UNFCC] website – all these things are new for North Korea,” Seliger said.
“We are talking about eight power plants, with the smallest size about 7.5 megawatts. These are not big projects but small or medium-sized projects,” Bernhard Seliger told AFP.
None has yet been completed, he said.
“I saw some (construction) sites in South Hamkyong province but that’s not all. There are other plants in other regions,” Seliger said, adding that some of the projects are led by the UN Development Programme.
The Hanns Seidel Foundation has been working since 2003 to build the North’s development capacity, and in 2008 organised a seminar on carbon trading for Pyongyang officials at their request.
The tradeable credits, called Certified Emissions Reductions, are awarded for approved clean-energy projects such as hydropower plants or wind farms.
Big polluters elsewhere in the world can buy them as part of their efforts to cut emissions.
Seliger said his foundation is helping the North to prepare for the auditing process required to join the UN carbon credit trading system known as the Clean Development Mechanism.
“One good thing about this project is that it is very transparent, involving monitoring and auditing on an annual basis… I think it is very good for North Korea to participate in such an international regime,” said Seliger.
An official at a South Korean state agency, the Korea Energy Management Corp, said registration would take at least a year or two and it was unclear how much the North would be able to earn if approved.
The official, who declined to be identified, said a typical eight-megawatt hydropower plant could yield about 19,500 carbon credits each year, each of which was currently traded at 12 euros in global markets.
This would amount to around $327,000 a year.
But some buyers may shun the communist state, given its history of nuclear and missile development which has led to international sanctions.
“Government buyers will certainly shy away from dealing with the North,” said Koo Jung-Han, a researcher at the Korea Institute of Finance.
“But private companies have few reasons not to buy credits from the North as long as it can offer a competitively low price. However, the big question is whether the North will be able to build the plants without outside financiers.”
Koo said that countries hoping to buy carbon credits from upcoming overseas projects often encourage investment in the ventures by their own finance companies.
“But what kind of financial companies will take a plunge in projects in such a volatile, politically risky country like North Korea?”
The North suffers persistent power shortages even in the showpiece capital Pyongyang.
Many rural areas receive power only during key agricultural seasons, and must rely for the rest of the year on alternative fuels, according to a recent policy paper published by the Nautilus Institute think-tank.
I am not sure which hydro power stations the DPRK is planning to submit to the UN, but many have been been highlighted in North Korean “media” in recent years:
Kumya River Dam A dam is being constructed in Kumya County, South Hamgyong Province, to provide electrical power. Kim Jong-il last visited in August 4, 2010. It is just one of several dams under currently under construction in the DPRK.
Here is a satellite image of the Kumya dam’s construction (Google Earth: 11/25/2008, 39.574232°, 127.104736°)
This new reservoir will flood the locations of three villages (리): Ryongnam-ri (룡남리), Ryongsang-ri (룡상리), and Ryongchon-ri (룡천리).
Estimates of the reservoir size are made by me, but it is fairly obvious where the North Korean engineers expect the reservoir to flood because they have already relocated the villages from their former locations in the flood zone.
Kumjingang River Power Stations
Beginning in 2000, the DPRK has constructed three power stations on the Kumjin River (금진강) in South Hamgyong Province. The first was the Kumjingang Power Station (금진강발전소). The second was the Kumjingang Hungbong Youth Power Station (금진강흥봉청년발전소). The third was the Kumjingang Kuchang Youth Power Station (금진강구창청년발전소). All three are pictured below on Google Earth:
It does not appear that these projects have resulted in dislocated villages.
Wonsan Youth Power Stations
Below is a satellite image of the Wonsan Youth Power Stations No’s. 1-4 (원산청년발전소). These projects required the construction of both the Kuryong Reservoir (구룡저수지) and an appx 8.5 mile (13.69km) tunnel to link the hydro power stations with their power source. The inaugural ceremony for these facilities was on January 10, 2009.
The construction of the Kuryong Reservoir resulted in the dislocation of three villages: Kuryong-ri (구룡리), Konja-ri (건자리), and Haerang-ri (해랑리).
Orangchon Power Station No. 1
Kim Jong-il offered guidance at the Orangchon Power Station (어랑천1호발전소) in February 2007. This facility will probably not be submitted to the UN for scrutiny because it lies just outside the security perimeter of what human rights groups assert is Kwan-li-so No. 16.
Anbyon Youth Power Stations No’s 1 & 2
The Anbyon Power Stations (안변청년1-2호발전소, 38.954400°, 127.538912°) are powered by waters from the Imnam Reservoir (임남저수지) via an underground tunnel nearly 45km in length. Much more here.
Ryesonggang Youth Power Stations 1-6
Some of the Ryesonggang Youth Power Stations (례성강청년1-6호발전소, 38.367696°, 126.781096°) appear to be under construction in North Hwanghae Province. The North Korean “media” has only broadcast images of the Ryesonggang Power Stations 1, 2, and 6 (all completed), so I presume that power stations 3, 4, and 5 are too new to show up on available Google Earth Satellite imagery. Below I post images of the distance between power stations 1 and 6 as well as close-ups of both facilities.
Power Station No. 1 was completed in 2007 and most recently received media attention in South Korea in September 2009 when the DPRK released a massive amount of water from its dam (Hwanggang Dam), causing floods in South Korea that killed six people. An estimated 40,000,000 short tons (36,000,000 t) of water was dumped during the flood, causing the water level at the border of Gyeonggi-do to leap from 7.5 feet (2.3 m) to 15.1 feet (4.6 m).
Power Station No. 2 (38.324008°, 126.673366°) has been completed, but it is too new to appear on Google Earth satellite imagery. I have drawn it on Google Earth below:
Construction of Power Station No. 2 resulted in the dislocation of approximately 27 houses, but I have not been able to determine if any other villages were relocated due to construction of the other facilities.
Paektusan Songun Youth Power Stations
The North Korean media has also done a lot of advertising for the Paektusan Songun Youth Power Stations (백두산선군청년발전소) in Paekam County, Ryanggang Province (41.716931°, 128.786163°).
These dams have resulted in the dislocation of two small communities as well as the severing of the old railway lines that connected Unhung, Kilju and Paekam with Musan. Maybe the railway lines have been moved to accommodate the new dams, but it is also unclear if these line were in use to begin with.
Pukchang Ryongsan Power Station
Up until recently I believed the Pukchang Ryongsan Power Station (북창룡산발전소, 39.596238°, 126.266478°) was a large-scale river-straightening project, but according to recent KCTV footage (which I posted to Youtube here) it is in fact a hydro power station. Work on this project began sometime around the spring 2002 (as best I can tell).
Huichon Youth Power Stations
The Huichon Youth Power Stations No. 1 & 2 have received the most attention in the North Korean media. I recently located them and will post something soon.
Since the DPRK will likely be subjecting several of these (or other) power plants to international scrutiny, I look forward to seeing that data published. KCNA is short on details and the disclosed information would facilitate more accurate assessments of the DPRK’s domestic hydro-power generating capacities.
A reader writes in with the following comments:
I would like to share some comments on the potential CDM projects in north Korea as i have been working on this field for many years now.
Concerning existing hydropower plants:
To be eligible to a CDM project, one of the first criteria is the additionality of the project. You have to prove (the rules are very stricts) that the project would not have been launched without the consideration of the revenues from the reselling of the CERs.
So the Dams that have already been buit are not eligible.
Concerning hydropower plants that are being implemented:
The first step of a CDM project is to notify to the UNFCCC secretariat and to Designated National Authority (in this case the Secretariat of the National Coordinating Committee of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea for Environment) that you are seeking to establish your project as a CDM project.
Up to now, no such notification has been received by UNFCCC so it would be quiet difficult for projects being implemented to ask for the CDM status (i mean nearly impossible).
Some facts concerning future hydropower projects:
From the day you send the notification that you are seeking the CDM status to the day you are actually given the status, it takes in average 2 to 3 years (they would have to build the plants during this period)
Then it can be at least another year before you receive the CERs.
The price of 12 euro for a CER is for secondary market. The price for primary CER (directly sold by the producer) would be much less than 8 euro.
The figure of 20 000 CERs/year is completely unpredictable for the moment, here is a simplification of the calculation:
One CER is equal to one tonne of CO2 equivalent that would be avoided by producing clean electricity. For example when you produce 1 MW electricity from coal, the process releases X tonnes of CO2 in the atmosphere but when you produce 1 MW from a hydropower plant, you do not release CO2.
In order to calculate what the CDM project would be able to claim, we would have to know the CO2 emission factor of the North Korean grid and then multiply it by the amount of MWh produced by the CDM project.
If most of the electricity produced these days in North Korea already comes from hydropower plants, then the national emission factor will be low and the CDM project will not avoid a lot of CO2 emission (and so not earn a lot of €)
Without the capacity of the future project and the national emission factor, it is impossible to estimate the amount of CERs the project could generate.
The CDM status seems quiet unrealistic to obtain for North Korean projects but other international agreements are discussed these days and their outcome may be more adapted.
Nuclear-armed but cash-starved North Korea has expressed interest in joining the world carbon market in an apparent bid to earn precious hard currency and avoid international sanctions, an expert told RFA.
But the secretive Kim Jong Il regime has to disclose critical information, such as energy consumption data as well as methods by which it derives energy, to be eligible for funding under the United Nations’ Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), said the North Korea expert, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The CDM is aimed at encouraging companies or organizations in the developed world to invest in carbon dioxide emissions-saving projects in developing countries.
In return for funding and technology transfer, investors receive carbon credits, which can then either be traded on carbon markets or used to reduce their own emissions tally if they are subject to a domestic cap.
The Kyoto Protocol set emission caps for 38 countries through 2012, establishing the CDM as a worldwide carbon market. It is a cornerstone of the group’s efforts to tackle global warming.
The North Korea expert told RFA on Jan. 13 that Pyongyang intended to apply for funding via the CDM and that the regime might list its proposed hydro-electricity power projects under the U.N. mechanism.
UN refrains from comment
When contacted on the North Korea move, the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), the secretariat charged with implementing the global environmental treaty to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations, said it would refrain from commenting on individual country projects.
The North Korea expert estimated that one ton of carbon dioxide would trade for about U.S. $26 dollars and if a hydro-electric power project was registered under the CDM, depending on the carbon credit bid price, about U.S. $1 million dollars could be earned annually.
A hydro project registered under the CDM would need to be evaluated by U.N. inspectors for it to qualify for carbon credits. Usually, it would be evaluated continuously for about 14 years.
Details, including the amount of energy linked to the hydro project and potential reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, would have to be submitted.
North Korea has been mostly reluctant to share information about its energy generation activities.
According to the expert, North Korea has recently displayed “great interest” in the possibility of operating hydro-electric power stations to alleviate its domestic energy shortages and to acquire “carbon credits” that it could, in turn, sell on the international carbon market.
As North Korea’s economic crisis worsens, Pyongyang is seeking ways to earn hard currency following a failed currency reform and due to sanctions imposed by the international community over its nuclear and missile developments and provocations targeting South Korea.
The interest in the CDM is likely to be part of this search.
The North Korea expert also said that earning hard currency through “carbon credits” would not be subject to sanctions imposed on Pyongyang under UN Security Council resolutions, and that any North Korea’s application for participation under the CDM “may stand a chance.”
“For North Korea, this could be an opportunity to earn hard currency without engaging in illegal armament sales, while operating an electric power station in transparent fashion, and accepting strict monitoring by the UN, and abiding by applicable international standards.”
The United States has been pressing China to use its influence to persuade North Korea regime to end recent provocations and return to disarmament talks involving the three countries and South Korea, Russia and Japan.
The six-party nuclear talks were last held in 2008. The impoverished North has been seeking a restart to the nuclear negotiations, which propose to reward its gradual nuclear disarmament with phased infusions of economic aid.
In a bid to renew dialogue and ease chances of conflict, South Korea recently proposed holding a preliminary meeting with North Korea on Feb. 11 to prepare for high-level defense talks. On Friday, the North suggested parliamentary talks between the two sides.
Read the full story here:
North Korea Eyes Carbon Market Radio Free Asia 1/29/2011
A speech made by North Korea’s young leader Kim Jong-un last year that detailed his plan on land management has been published in Chinese, a state media report said Tuesday, in what is believed to be his first Chinese-language publication.
The Chinese-version of Kim’s speech, titled “On Brining About a Revolutionary Turnabout in National Land Management Work to Meet the Demand of Building a Powerful Socialist State,” was published on Sept. 3 in Dandong, China’s border city with North Korea, China News Service reported.
According to the report, the speech by Kim was published by a Chinese printing firm named “Longshan,” but it did not give other information, including the name of its publisher or whether the publication is being sold.
Kim, who took power in late 2011 following the death of his father, Kim Jong-il, made the speech on April 27 of last year, while convening a meeting of key members of the North’s Workers’ Party of Korea and economic organizations.
During the April 27 meeting, Kim said, “Land management is a patriotic work for the eternal prosperity of the country, and a noble work for providing the people with better living conditions,” according to a report by the North’s state media at the time.
Kim also ordered officials to improve water management, including the improvement of rivers and streams as well as dams, lock gates and “gravity-fed waterways and irrigation channels.”
Read the full story here:
N. Korean leader’s plan on land management published in Chinese Yonhap
UPDATE 1 (2012-11-19): Aidan Foster-Carter has sent me a Naenara link to Kim Jong-un’s full remarks (published in English).
ORIGINAL POST (2012-5-8): On 2012-5-8 KCNA posted two articles citing a publication by Kim Jong-un on “land management”. The paper, titled “On Effecting a Drastic Turn in Land Management to Meet the Requirements for Building a Thriving Socialist Nation”, was not posted but will no doubt be offered for sale to Pyongyang tourists before too long. However until I receive a copy, the two KCNA articles below will have to do:
Last month, North Korea invited 14 scientists from eight different countries — five alone from the U.S. — to attend a conference with 75 North Korean scientists, and provide their expertise on restoring the country’s environment and securing domestic food supplies. Dr. Margaret Palmer, executive director of Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center at the University of Maryland and one of the scientists who appeared at the conference, recently spoke with the New York Times about her assessment of North Korea’s ecological crisis and its government’s capability to deal with it.
“It’s a depressing landscape, especially this time of year,” Palmer told the Times. “Everything is just mud and everything is being farmed, or attempted to be farmed. But their ability to produce food is being dramatically compromised by a cascade of effects caused by deforestation.”
North Korea’s environmental crisis started in the 1950s during the Korean War, which resulted in massive forest fires and widespread deforestation. The situation was exacerbated during the 1990s when droughts and floods destroyed crops and caused a major famine that killed hundreds of thousands of people. Recovering forests were raided by desperate villagers for food and fuel, many surviving by eating grass and tree bark.
Although the major environmental problems were clear to Palmer, she expressed doubts about the North Korean scientists’ approach to them.
“The presentations were almost exclusively about how to promote agriculture … It felt like [the North Korean scientists] had a sense of the direction of the scientific community in the rest of the world but that they lacked the technology and understanding to implement any of it,” Palmer said.
In contrast, Peter Raven, president emeritus of Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, offered praise for North Korea’s efforts to reforest through planting crops alongside trees.
“They had a fine understanding of agroforestry principles and were applying them in a very understanding way to reforestation,” Raven told Science Magazine.
Norman Neuriter, director at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, who selected the American experts for the conference, said the gathering was heavily monitored and restricted, and expressed disappointment with the limited communication between the advisory team and North Korean scientists.
“One would like to have had more individual interaction, one-on-one or two-on-two, but that wasn’t possible,” Neureiter told the Atlantic Wire.
“We weren’t allowed to talk informally with the scientists,” Palmer told the Times. “We were escorted to separate rooms during coffee breaks and there was no time to casually chat and ask questions.”
Despite the restrictive atmosphere of the conference, the scientists are hoping to move forward with environmental restoration projects, though it is not yet clear how political tensions over North Korea’s nuclear program will impact future collaboration efforts. It is clear that the government must mobilize quickly if it is to avoid another disaster like it experienced during the 1990s.
According to the KCNA, North Korea amended its environmental protection law on August 18, adding development of energy and environmental certification system into the revised act.
The environmental protection law is comprised of four sections and 50 articles, in which articles 38, 39, and 40 were added recently. These contain laws related to the development and usage of renewable energy resources, recycling technology, and implementation of environmental certification system. In addition, articles 44 and 48 were also supplemented in Section 4. They include plans for setting up environmental economic indicators.
According to the KCNA, “Based on this law, each agencies, companies and organizations are reducing fossil energy consumption to protect the environment and promote continuous economic growth. In its place, renewable energy resources such as solar, wind and geothermal energy are currently being explored.”
North Korea has registered eight hydroelectric plants with the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) to receive carbon credits which can be sold to earn hard currency. Receiving accreditation toward the CDM (Clean Development Mechanism) will allow developing countries to earn tradable carbon credits for emissions reductions from clean-energy projects.
Currently, Ryesonggang Hydropower Plant No. 3, 4, 5 and Wonsangunmin Hydropower Plant No. 1 reached the validation phase while the other four plants are at the prior consideration phase.
On July 26, the KCNA explained the environmental protection law was revised “to beautify our homeland, protect the health and wellbeing of our people, and provide culturally hygienic environment with favorable working conditions.” Accordingly, the environmental protection law passed in 1999 is now ineffective.
In recent years, North Korea seems to be paying keen attention to environmental protection issues. From May 16 to June 10, ten senior officials from the DPRK Ministry of Land and Environmental Protection and National Science and Technology Commission were invited to a training course at the Asian Institute of Technology in Thailand.
The program was implemented by the United Nations Economicand Social Commission for Asiaand the Pacific (ESCAP) as a part of the project “Promoting Regional and Economic Cooperation in Northeast Asia.” The four-week training program provided highly specialized training on integrated watershed management and reforestation.
Additional Information: You can read more about the DPRK’s CDM efforts here, here, and here.
There are no private cars in North Korea and countless factory chimneys have not belched smoke in years, but state media said on Tuesday scientists were inventing new ways to cut air pollution and protect the environment.
The country “has directed a great effort” to research environmental protection, the state news agency KCNA reported.
“Researchers have developed a new material for removing exhaust fumes from automobiles so as to cut the greenhouse gas emissions and reduce air pollution 35-40 percent,” it said, without elaborating.
It also said “units” in the capital, Pyongyang, that caused pollution had been registered, suggesting that dirty industries were under pressure to get clean.
“They are now developing a gas and dust arrester necessary in production processes and new materials needed to secure environmental safety of products,” it said.
The isolated communist country’s state-run media periodically boasts revolutionary innovations in science and technology, despite a moribund economy and chronic food shortages.
Perhaps the most visible in recent years have been related to the relatively well-funded — and well-fed — military. North Korea has conducted two nuclear tests since 2006 and several missile launches, upsetting its neighbours.
North Korean scientists also invented a device using “locally available materials” to incinerate hospital waste, KCNA said, and the Environmental Protection Institute of the Ministry of Land and Environmental Conservation had intensified research into pollution-free vegetable production.
Scientific Achievements of Environmental Protection
Pyongyang, June 22 (KCNA) — The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has directed a great effort to scientific researches for environmental protection.
Researchers have developed a new material for removing exhaust fumes from automobiles so as to cut the greenhouse gas emissions and reduce air pollution 35-40 percent.
They have also put the environmental management of industrial establishments on IT basis.
Meanwhile, they have registered units causing environmental pollution in Pyongyang and confirmed methods and procedures for preventing pollution. They are now developing a gas and dust arrester necessary in production processes and new materials needed to secure environmental safety of products.
Besides, they have invented a new device to destroy by fire such wastes from hospitals as contaminated injector and bandage with locally available materials.
Scientists of the Environmental Protection Institute of the Ministry of Land and Environmental Conservation have intensified a research in pollution-free vegetable production.
Read the full Reuters story here:
N.Korea says puts “great effort” into environment Reuters
North Korea Uncovered version 18 is available. This Google Earth overlay maps North Korea’s agriculture, aviation, cultural locations, markets, manufacturing facilities, railroad, energy infrastructure, politics, sports venues, military establishments, religious facilities, leisure destinations, and national parks.
This project has now been downloaded over 140,000 times since launching in April 2007 and received much media attention last month following a Wall Street Journal article highlighting the work.
Note: Kimchaek City is now in high resolution for the first time. Information on this city is pretty scarce. Contributions welcome.
Additions to this version include: New image overlays in Nampo (infrastructure update), Haeju (infrastructure update, apricot trees), Kanggye (infrastructure update, wood processing factory), Kimchaek (infrastructure update). Also, river dredges (h/t Christopher Del Riesgo), the Handure Plain, Musudan update, Nuclear Test Site revamp (h/t Ogle Earth), The International School of Berne (Kim Jong un school), Ongjin Shallow Sea Farms, Monument to “Horizon of the Handure Plain”, Unhung Youth Power Station, Hwangnyong Fortress Wall, Kim Ung so House, Tomb of Kim Ung so, Chungnyol Shrine, Onchon Public Library, Onchon Public bathhouse, Anbyon Youth Power Stations.