The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change website is presently offering people an opportunity to post their comments on the green credentials (or otherwise) of a massive tidal power plant (area: 196km2) in Incheon, ROK. This tidal power plant aims to convert the ROK’s largest remaining contiguous area of intertidal wetland into a reservoir. The area to be affected is the whole visually striking span of salt-marsh, tidal creeks, small islets and open tidal-flat that stretches north from the Incheon international airport to Ganghwa Island.
The opportunity to comment is open until December 12th 2011. This opportunity is provided as part of Incheon Tidal Power Station’s application for carbon credits which they would then sell. As stated within the application proposal, without carbon credits, the tidal power plant would not be “economically feasible” (P. 16).
Absence of comment at this time might be perceived as international support; comments expressing concern will very likely help to erode support for this tidal power plant and for similar projects elsewhere – both here in the ROK and in other nations with threatened estuaries.
To add your comment (positive or negative) please go to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change website by clicking here.
Birds Korea believes that this project is very poorly-advised. In its natural state, the intertidal area threatened by the Incheon Bay tidal power-plant is supposedly part-protected under domestic legislation. It supports several species in internationally important concentrations (including in and adjacent to this area, the world’s largest breeding concentration of the globally Endangered Black-faced Spoonbill Platalea minor), and it supports the livelihoods of large numbers of people both directly and indirectly. It should therefore be maintained in its present state, and designated as a Ramsar site.
However, the power-plant project that is seeking to win validation for its contribution to sustainable development requires the construction of massive seawalls, 20.9km in length, to create a vast reservoir fed by incoming high tides (which will then ebb lower at low tide in order to drive turbines).
In summary, we believe that:
1. There is little local or domestic support for the project;
2. It will impact biodiversity negatively, including globally threatened species;
3.It will lead to the loss of a very substantial area of natural habitats (mountains dug out for seawall construction and most especially extensive internationally important salt-marshes and open tidal-flats permanently flooded or dried out);
4. It might not do much to reduce greenhouse gas emissions once all factors are considered. In addition to increased emissions during construction, it seems possible that natural carbon sequestration will be reduced even while greenhouse gas emissions increase (as natural salt-marshes and tidal-flats are fantastic sinks for greenhouse gases, but can release much CO2 and methane when degraded);
5. And it will likely encourage further similarly destructive projects.
Objectively this proposed tidal power plant does not meet the definition of sustainable development or Targets as set out by the Millennium Development Goals; nor does it meet existing conservation obligations or targets under Ramsar or CBD’s Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 (with the latter calling by 2020 for “the rate of loss of all natural habitats (to be) at least halved and where feasible brought close to zero” (Target 5) and “the conservation status (of threatened species), particularly of those most in decline, (to be) improved and sustained” (Target 12).
The project therefore should not be validated as part of the Clean Development Mechanism by being allowed to sell carbon credits.
If you are willing to take a further five minutes to read more about the project, to register your comment or to forward this mail on to individuals or organisations that might be interested, we would be most appreciative.
Director, Birds Korea
November 30th, 2011.
To go directly to the PDF explaining the project, please click here.
For further information on this threatened site and its natural values, see pages 36-39 of the 2010 Birds Korea Blueprint by clicking here.
And for more on “South Korea’s Plans for Tidal Power: When a “Green” Solution Creates More Problems”, please visit here.