Towards a low-carbon economyThe 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change will be held in December, and a new universal agreement on climate, to be implemented from 2020 after the application of the Kyoto Protocol expires that year, will be concluded. Countries need to submit the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) by September, according to last year’s conference in Lima, Peru. Korea has already submitted its greenhouse gas reduction pledge, on June 30. Korea aims to reduce the 2030 emission estimate by 37 percent (850 million tons in carbon dioxide) and to utilize the international carbon market.
The Korean government accepted the Green Growth Committee’s proposal and finalized the reduction goal that exceeds the strictest one of the four government plans, as well as complies with the reduction target proposed by the international community in 2009. The government has proclaimed a strong will to convert to a low-carbon economy. The pledge meets the expectations of the international community with no retreat from its earlier pledge, emphasizing fairness, enthusiasm and reduction of emissions by 40 percent from 2010 levels by 2050. While industries argue excessive greenhouse gas emission would discourage growth, some civic groups criticize that the government is overly protective of companies. Different views exist in the international community as well.
However, the new climate agenda can actually be an opportunity for prosperity and success, depending on how Korea plays with it. Interested parties need to work together and calmly contemplate conditions for a brighter future. A low carbon-economy will bring positive economic impacts, like creation of jobs, improved air quality, improved hygiene, decrease in poverty and reinforced energy security. It is a way to make the future generation happier.
The government would effectively encourage innovation in energy and manufacturing industries. Companies should also play the role of the driving force towards a low-carbon economy. People need to get used to a low-carbon lifestyle. Civic groups are promoting a campaign to reduce 1 ton of greenhouse gas per person - let’s participate in and support the movement for a better future.
by Yoon Seong-kyu Minister of Environment