Seoul’s Eco-mileage programme is aimed at reducing GHG emissions and global warming by improving energy efficiency and saving energy. It is also the key element of One Less Nuclear Power Plant, which is being promoted by the Seoul Metropolitan Government as its flagship energy policy goal. According to the city’s GHG inventory, households and buildings account for 71 percent of emissions, and transportation 22 percent. The city determined that the most effective way to reduce emissions is to encourage households and businesses to implement voluntary energy conservation measures. Through the Eco-mileage programme, the Seoul metropolitan government provides energy consultants to help participants determine the best way to save energy. Points are earned according to the amount of energy saved and can be redeemed as discounts on eco-friendly products or public transport vouchers. In June 2013, the Seoul Metropolitan government received the UN Public Service Awards CATEGORY 3 for fostering participation in public policy decision-making through innovative mechanisms in connection with the Eco-mileage programme.
What is it?
Eco-mileage is a voluntary programme by which households and businesses implement energy conservation measures, and are incentivized to invest in driving further energy reductions. The programme has demonstrated remarkable success not only in reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions, but also in raising public awareness. Membership has surpassed 1.6 million, and more than about 8 percent of users have received incentive points for their energy consumption reduction.
How does it work?
Subscription to the programme is easy. Any household or business can sign up to become a member at http://ecomileage.seoul.go.kr/home/index.do through a simple online procedure. Seoul Metropolitan Government checks Eco-Mileage members’ consumption of energy – including electricity, water, Liquid Natural Gas, and district heating – and discloses the information online so that members can track their energy savings over time.
Members with good energy-savings records are incentivized to invest in driving further energy reductions. For example, in the case of a household, the amount of energy consumption is converted into carbon emissions. If the household reduces emissions by 10 percent or more compared with same period of the previous year, it receives 50,000 mileage points (worth around KRW50,000, or almost US$50), which can be used to buy eco-friendly products, pay for public transportation journeys or redeemed with merchants that cooperate with the Eco-mileage programme. It provides businesses with the funds necessary to enhance energy efficiency and plant trees. The incentives have worked as a significant motivating factor for energy conservation for many citizens, and have enhanced their commitment to environmental protection.
As an extension to the programme, citizens may also earn card points by using public transportation; this has become possible through the city administration’s MOU with BC Card, Korea’s biggest credit card company, and four commercial banks.
Since the launch of programme in September 2009, subscribers have saved 377,000 tons of oil equivalent, which is equivalent to the one-year operation of 471,000 cars and the reduction of CO2 emissions by 820,000 tons.
The city has issued points with a total value of more than 7.0 billion won ($6.6 million) to 146,000 households that achieved year-on-year energy savings of more than 10 percent in biannual evaluations.
The city seeks to expand the membership of the Eco-mileage programme through promotional efforts targeting Seoul citizens; to offer members who save energy more ways to use the eco-miles earned; and, finally, to expand the programme, for example by adding cycling to the other modes of “eco” transportation.
The Seoul Eco-mileage System has served as a model for other cities and levels of government. In January 2010, the Korean Ministry of Environment also started a carbon point system based on Seoul’s Eco-mileage programme. Other cities have also introduced and implemented the system to their citizens.
Eco-mileage Team, Climate Change & Air Quality Division, Seoul Metropolitan Government
Assistant Director Hong-Ju Kim (firstname.lastname@example.org)