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South Korea will announce its emissions reduction target for 2020 next year

Jake Schmidt

Posted August 22, 2008 in Solving Global Warming

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Lots of people have been wondering what efforts developing countries will take in the international response to global warming pollution in the lead-in to the agreement to be reached in Copenhagen. Well, we will get some greater clarity next year from South Korea as they announced today at the international negotiations in Ghana.

South Korean Climate Change Ambassador Rae-Kwon Chung just told the international community that next year they will announce their own emissions reduction target through 2020. With the recent announcement from South Africa (as I discussed) and this announcement from South Korea, we now have positive signals from two major emerging economies on what efforts they will contribute towards addressing global warming pollution. Who will be next? The US, Japan, etc.?

We don’t know what specifically they’ll commit to, but this is a positive sign in the continued strong push of emerging economies to address global warming. Stay tuned for more details, but it looks like momentum is building. Later I’ll post on what frame those actions could take in the international agreement in Copenhagen, as there was some positive signs.

UPDATE: I had a conversation with Ambassador Chung after I posted this note and he informed me that South Korean President Lee Myung-bak actually made this announcement at the Major Economies Meeting that was held alongside the G8 meeting.  Reuters is pointing this out in a story that they are just running.  What they aren’t noting is that Ambassador Chung informed me that President Myung-bak read this statement during the meeting where the leaders of major economies were sitting around the same table.  Did President Bush hear him?  You would think that such a statement would have received some praise or at least a note from President Bush…after all, the meeting where it was announced was where President Bush had originally wanted leaders to announce their mid-term plans to reduce emissions.  Exactly what South Korea said they would do!  Apparently, President Bush didn’t hear him.  Was he reading a newspaper?  That’s the rumor I heard.

Here is an excerpt from his remarks on July 9, 2008 (worth a read):

Climate change is indeed a daunting challenge that could threaten our very existence but it has also allowed us to remind ourselves that we, as a global community living on planet earth, share a common destiny.  

We, the 16 major economies, must work closely together to bring about such changes. Korea will actively participate in the efforts. We will vigorously support the long-term goal of cutting in half global greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050. Korea is also in the process of building national consensus and hopefully we will be ready to announce our mid-term mitigation goal for 2020 sometime next year.  

I believe that the keys to a successful design of a post-2012 global climate regime are the provision of clear mid-term reduction goals by developed countries and the introduction of incentive schemes that will encourage the participation of developing countries. By recognizing carbon credits for verifiable mitigation actions made by developing countries, the economic viability of investments for climate actions will be improved and eventually the market will drive mitigation actions in developing countries.  This will enable developing countries to pursue "green growth" and move toward a "low-carbon society."

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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