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Pres. Lee Urges Compromise on CO2 Emissions Pact

Posted September. 23, 2009 07:24,   


President Lee Myung-bak yesterday proposed a registry of nationally appropriate mitigation actions to require developing nations to register theirs with the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.

He was speaking at the first roundtable of leaders or ministers from 26 nations that he co-chaired with Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

Seoul suggested the arbitration proposal to resolve the deadlock over greenhouse gas emissions.

The roundtable is a lead-up to the December meeting of the U.N. convention in Copenhagen to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which will expire in 2012. Though the summit is being attended by leaders or ministers from around 180 nations, including 89 heads of state, prospects for an agreement are grim due to opinion gaps between developed and developing nations.

The United States, the European Union and Japan want China and India to suggest binding targets for greenhouse gas emissions based on international treaties. Beijing and New Delhi, however, say developed nations should set more challenging targets for CO2 emissions.

To break the deadlock, President Lee suggested a measure to encourage developing nations to voluntarily reduce CO2 emissions via his proposed registry at the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change instead of forcing them to accept binding targets.

Todd Stern, U.S. special envoy for climate change, told The New York Times that President Lee’s proposal was an efficient measure to narrow the gap between developed and developing nations.

President Lee also said Korea, a nation not bound by the Kyoto Protocol, will announce its mid-term target and invest two percent of GDP into green technologies per year by 2020.

In an interview with the New York Times, he said advanced economies have historic responsibilities. “Advanced economies must share (C02 emission-reducing) technologies with developing and underdeveloped nations, and they must really be sincere in their efforts to foot the cost. Once they show sincerity, it will be a huge factor in convincing new and emerging economies,” he said.

Both emerging and developing economies should recognize that they cannot evade issues surrounding climate change, he added.

○ North Korea’s economic growth

President Lee also gave a speech to a luncheon co-hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations, the Korea Society and the Asia Society.

In a question and answer session afterwards, he said, “Reunification of the two Koreas is an important issue, but peace between the two nations is more important than reunification. South Korea could consider the reunification scenario when North Korea’s economic condition get better. It would be hard to pursue reunification now because of the wide economic gap between the two. South Korea is willing to provide support only if North Korea gives up its nuclear program.”

“We don’t want forceful reunification like what happened in Yemen. We just want a peaceful reunification process. While considering Germany’s unexpected reunification, we have always set up relevant plans.”

He also said, “In August, North Korea announced that it owned and developed enriched uranium. The truth has not been revealed, but we must negotiate with North Korea while imagining a worst-case scenario. Pyongyang might have possibly traded nuclear materials with other dangerous nations, whose names cannot be mentioned.”

“Besides the nuclear issue, North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction and human rights should also be discussed. I think other issues can be handled easily if the nuclear issue is resolved. Accordingly, I plan to deal with the nuclear issue first and handle the others later.”