[Letters] Preventing a 2012 climate fiasco

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[Letters] Preventing a 2012 climate fiasco

The much-anticipated 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen turned out to be a huge disappointment. The summit, with delegates from 193 nations and heads of state from 129 nations in attendance, had over 45,000 participants, making it one of the biggest international conferences in history and garnering high expectations. Korea alone sent over 300 delegates.

Korea, in particular, had high hopes for the summit. In 2008, the government put forth as one of its main goals achieving a greener country and lowering greenhouse gas emissions. The following year, Korea, despite economic difficulties, voluntarily established a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 4 percent by 2020, earning international praise. Because of such efforts, the summit proved to be particularly disappointing for Korea.

There are several reasons the summit was a global fiasco. The biggest and the most obvious reason was the conference’s failure to come up with a new treaty that will engage the international community after the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012. Another is how the unofficial partnership of the G-77 led by the United States and China kept interfering with Japan and the EU’s leadership.

To make matters worse, no one was able to stop the bickering and steer the participants toward agreement. Lapses in operations and a failure to respond to concerns also led a representative from South Africa to label the summit “the world’s worst conference.”

Last December, President Lee Myung-bak announced Korea’s bid to host the conference in 2012. In order to act as a main actor in climate change issues, cooperation among the government, academia and the citizens is necessary. Only then can our nation make clear Korea’s stance on environmental matters to other countries and lead global communications on climate change.

Cha Myung-je, professor at Dongguk University and vice director of the Korea Green Foundation
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