“No Car Day” in South Korea

You too may have noticed the abundance of pedestrians testing the efficiently of the subway and the clip clop of heels negotiating an uneven pavement. It’s reasonable to assume that Korea’s “No Car Day”    has made the streets ever so slightly quieter since it’s passing last September.

September 22nd 2009 was the launch of Koreas “No Driving Days” campaign. The aim of this Transport Demand Strategy is to limit the number of weekdays that drivers use their vehicles. Drivers register their pledge on-line, promising to find alternative transportation on one pre-designated weekday between 7am-10pm. Their compliance is checked with electronic monitoring devices located around the city, communicating with electronic tags embedded with radio transmitter chips.

The National Campaigns’ intention is two–fold. Reduce harmful carbon emissions and energy use while decreasing congestion in targeted areas by limiting the number of private vehicles on the road. The voluntarily programme titillates participants with reduced vehicle insurance, discounted gasoline purchases and varying parking rates, alongside other car related financial incentives. The hope is that South Korea’s policy will follow the success of China’s, which promises to continue until 2012.

Mayors across South Korea are being encouraged to endorse and publicize participation in this programme, which has seen compulsory participation from Busan’s Government employees. Further north in Seoul, the Municipal Government estimates their program will save the city US$50 million in energy savings annually, and an additional US$27 million in social benefits such as the quality of air. Both of which exceed the cost of the program which is estimated to have cost little over US$10.1 million to date (2006-2008).

The outcomes of this green initiative will not become apparent for some time. As yet, the Joint US-China Cooperation on Clean Energy (JUCCCE) report 750,000 participates and a daily decrease of 10,000 vehicles which is equal to 1.3%. While this is promising, fewer cars on Seoul’s roads have seen an increase in the average speed by 3%. For the programme to have a significant impact and longevity, it ought to be combined with other initiatives such as enhanced public transportation system and a multifaceted bike line network.

More reading: What the Chinese think of their No-Car days
How to calculate and reduce your carbon footprint

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change ( Fact source)

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