Posted December. 19, 2009 12:33,
The Conference on Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change has failed to set targets for greenhouse gas reductions, a core agenda of the event geared to curb global warming. Representatives from 193 countries held a two-week meeting in Copenhagen before 130 countries convened their summit yesterday, the final day of the conference. Participants prepared a first draft of an agreement on restricting a further rise in temperature to within two degrees Celsius from the level before industrialization. Even if reached, the agreement will merely be a political declaration and will not be legally binding.
Advanced economies and developing nations held contentious negotiations over key issues, including CO2 reduction targets and financial assistance to developing countries, to curb global warming. They, however, failed to overcome conflicting interests and ended up postponing the agenda to the next conference.
Chances are high that specific reduction targets will be set at next years conference. A post-Kyoto Protocol system is likely to be finalized next year for after 2013, when the protocol expires. Korea did not sign the protocol, but will be included on the list of countries obliged to cut CO2 emissions under the post-protocol era. Seoul announced Nov. 17 the national target of a 30-percent cut from its projected emissions volume by 2020, or 569 million tons. The government must adjust laws and regulations on CO2 emissions and step up implementation of green growth policy next year.
Critics say efforts to reduce CO2 emissions will decrease GDP and slow economic growth. Nevertheless, Korea is the first country to set the specific target of a 30-percent emissions cut among countries not obliged to do so. This is intended to significantly enhance the nations image. Another benefit could be Korea overcoming trade barriers related to the environment. Advanced economies constitute Koreas major export markets, and are moving to impose carbon tariffs on products from countries shunning reductions in CO2 emissions.
A major achievement of the Copenhagen conference is that rich countries narrowly reached an agreement on a system designed to assist less developed nations in preserving tropical rainforests. Deforestation accounts for nearly 20 percent of global CO2 emissions, larger than that from cars, trucks, buses and airplanes in the world combined and equivalent to the emission volume of the U.S. and China.
Korea can also develop green industries as a new engine of growth. The value of the global carbon emission rights market is an estimated 150 billion U.S. dollars per year, or almost 70 percent of what the global semiconductor market was worth in 2007. The development of other environment-friendly sectors such as electric vehicles and rechargeable batteries also holds high promise. For Korea to become a world leader in green growth, it must proactively cope with the era of climate change.