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Korea should benefit from the new climate system

Posted November. 30, 2015 09:36,   


Paris will see on Monday the opening of the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, whose participants will have discussions on how to reduce greenhouse gas after 2020. Aside from the general assembly meeting, which will be held through Dec. 11, where leaders of 196 countries will participate, leaders of around 140 countries including President Park Geun-hye will attend the Paris climate change conference. This general assembly meeting will have developing countries for the first time including China and India, known as large greenhouse gas emitters. The goal of the conference is to create a new international treaty that is conclusive and binding on a new climate system, in time for when the Kyoto Protocol terminates in 2020.

The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in 1997 and has not been very effective in reducing greenhouse gas. The aim of the treaty is to make greenhouse gas emission reduction "obligatory for developed countries and voluntary for developing countries," but some advanced countries such as the U.S., Japan, and Canada have withdrawn from the treaty because of domestic industry preservation. In the Paris climate summit, the participants will discuss how to apply the obligation to reduce emissions to all countries regardless of their economic power. The main discussion point is the confirmation of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions submitted by 178 countries to the UN and the discussion of specific plans to make the agreement possible.

The largest greenhouse gas emitters, China (26 percent) and the U.S. (16 percent), seem strongly positive about a new climate system, which shows a high possibility for an agreement. What is imperative is to curtail coal power plants, which are the sources of the biggest carbon emissions. U.S. President Barack Obama put forward in August a plan to leave coal and embrace more solar energy and wind power for supplying electricity. By 2030, China will also increase the portion of non-coal energy by 20 percent from the portion set in 2005. It would be difficult for Korea to achieve its goals, as coal power plants currently take 30 percent of the whole power plants and 40 percent of electricity generation. On the issue of the next climate system being compulsive, Europe is positive, while the U.S. and China are negative, and Korea is non-committal.

The next system climate system will be a major element to change the world economy as it will emphasize new renewable and high efficiency energy. "The new economic order design to deal with climate change will create unprecedented markets and industries," said Lee Hoe-sung, the new chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, at a seminar on how to deal with climate change and new energy industries on last Monday. Korea will have to make the most of this opportunity for growth by responding to the upcoming changes with technology development and investment in infrastructure.