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Will Hyundai Motor scrap LNG power plant construction?

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Environmental activists picket Hyundai Motor Group headquarters in Seoul, Monday, to insist that the carmaker scrap its plan to build a liquefied natural gas power plant. Yonhap
Environmental activists picket Hyundai Motor Group headquarters in Seoul, Monday, to insist that the carmaker scrap its plan to build a liquefied natural gas power plant. Yonhap

By Park Jae-hyuk

Hyundai Motor has remained ambiguous about the construction of a power plant using liquefied natural gas (LNG) near its Ulsan factory, Friday, despite the possibility of losing its RE100 membership, as well as backlash from its unionized workers and the city's residents.

Since the construction project was announced last month, concerns have grown among environmental activists here and overseas, including the Climate Group, which leads the RE100 campaign, a global initiative of businesses committed to making the move to 100 percent renewable electricity by 2050.

The activists described Hyundai Motor's continuing use of fossil fuels as "greenwashing," or deceptive marketing to make the company appear eco-friendly when in fact it is not.

The Climate Group even hinted at the possible nullification of Hyundai Motor's RE100 membership, which it earned in April this year.

Amid the controversy, the Hyundai Motor union said late Thursday that the management expressed its intention to postpone the construction indefinitely.

The union has claimed that the LNG power plant will not create decent jobs, saying that the management has sought to use irregular workers for the facility.

"Before we start wage bargaining for this year, we asked the management to clarify its stance on the construction of the power plant," the union said in a statement. "Citing the labor management dispute, the company told us that it would not discuss the issue anymore and that it would delay the construction indefinitely."

A Hyundai Motor spokesman, however, said that the union's statement was misleading.

"We just agreed not to mention that issue during the wage bargaining," he said. "It remains uncertain whether we will continue the construction."

He declined to comment on the company's countermeasures against criticisms from environmental activists.

Some energy industry experts have defended Hyundai Motor, raising questions about the feasibility of Korean companies joining the RE100 campaign under the country's current unfavorable environment toward solar, wind and other cleaner energy options.
Park Jae-hyuk pjh@koreatimes.co.kr


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