Partake in Net-Zero ambition
Simon Smith, British ambassadorMichael Danagher, Canadian ambassadorEinar H. Jensen, Danish ambassadorPekka Metso, Finnish ambassadorPhilippe Lefort, French ambassadorMichael Reiffenstuel, German ambassadorFederico Failla, Italian ambassadorJoanne Doornewaard, Dutch ambassadorPhilip Turner, New Zealand ambassadorFrode Solberg, Norwegian ambassadorJohannes Andreasson, deputy head of Swedish embassyJohn Bogaerts, Charge dAffaires, EU Delegation
Countries across the globe are set to announce their most ambitious climate commitments yet at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), commencing Nov. 1. Here in the Republic of Korea, serious and complex discussions are taking place across society, government and industry about the nation’s possible pathways to net-zero. Ambassadors and Representatives from Canada, Denmark, the EU, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom, this week met with Democratic Party Chairman Song Young-gil and People Power Party Chairman Lee Jun-seok to share their hope for strong Korean leadership in tackling the climate crisis. Their open letter captures their collective encouragement for Korea to take action in line with global efforts to significantly cut GHG emissions by 2030.
An open letter
The final countdown to COP26 has begun. Milan will play to host to the pre-COP at the end of this month (Sept. 30–Oct. 2). Heads of State and Government will then gather in Glasgow for the COP26 World Leader’s Summit (Nov. 1-2), ahead of two weeks of crucial climate negotiations.
COP26 is the critical climate summit of this generation — the first COP to take place after the landmark Paris Agreement’s measures take effect.
Six years ago in Paris, world leaders agreed that nations would take action to restrict global temperature rises this century, to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and to pursue efforts to limit to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
COP26 President Alok Sharma has been clear that the success or failure of COP26, will be judged in large part, on whether commitments are made to keep 1.5 degrees Celsius “within reach.”
There is cause for optimism. Recent NDC commitments from Britain (68 percent), United States (50-52 percent), EU (55 percent) and Japan (46 percent) have built confidence that nations are acting to avoid the worst extremes of the climate crisis. Within the EU, member states such as Denmark are pushing for even greater ambition, having committed to a 70 percent emissions reduction by 2030. Whilst Finland is targeting carbon neutrality by 2035.
However, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s most recent scientific analysis (August 2021) indicates that 1.1 degrees Celsius of warming has already taken place. To keep 1.5 degrees Celsius within reach, more countries need to step up ambition.
Earlier this year (February 2021), the UN published their Synthesis Report of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), submitted prior to Dec. 31, 2020 (including the Republic of Korea’s 24.4 percent commitment).
UN Secretary-General António Guterres called the Synthesis Report a “red alert for our planet,” and was clear that “to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, we must cut global emission by 45 percent by 2030 from 2010 levels.” He urged major emitters “to step-up with much more ambitious emissions reductions targets for 2030 in their NDCs well before the November UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow.”
As diplomats, we welcome the leadership of President Moon Jae-in in committing to revise the Republic of Korea’s currently insufficient NDC, ahead of COP26.
In writing to you now, we wish to congratulate the National Assembly on the recent passage of legislation, locking-in the Republic of Korea’s commitment to 2050 Net Zero via passage of the Bill on Carbon Neutrality and Green Growth to Respond to the Climate Crisis.
We also welcome the legislation’s commitment to an NDC of “at least 35 percent.” As a major developed emitter, we wish to echo the UN Secretary General’s call and urge the Republic of Korea to step up with emissions reduction targets for 2030 that are as ambitious as possible, ahead of COP26.
As a nation bidding to host COP28, the world is looking to the Republic of Korea to take on a leadership role, both regionally and on the global stage.
We are grateful for your ongoing leadership to avert the worst extremes of the climate crisis and your consideration of our encouragement for ambitious Korean action, which supports global efforts to halve emissions this decade.