Let me begin the 40th Cabinet Meeting.
The Chuseok break is just a few days away. During the holiday, I am scheduled to attend the U.N. General Assembly. As the COVID-19 outbreak drags on, we have to greet this coming Chuseok amid difficulties yet again. However, I’d like to see all of the people keep the warmth and generosity of Chuseok in their hearts. In particular, I hope this traditional holiday serves as an opportunity to check on our neighbors in need and show each other warm-hearted compassion. Relief payments and earned income and child tax credit refunds as well as support programs for microbusiness owners and other government assistance will hopefully be of help.
We can’t afford to let our guard down against the spread of coronavirus yet. In particular, as the case count in the Seoul metropolitan area is rising, I am concerned that the Chuseok break might lead to the virus spreading nationwide. The Government will raise its state of alertness and do everything possible to maintain special epidemic prevention measures during the holiday. I hope everyone also complies with anti-epidemic guidelines during the Chuseok break. I particularly urge those who will visit their hometowns to actively take part in preemptive diagnostic tests.
Within this week, we will be able to meet the goal promised to the people – administering at least the first dose of vaccine to 36 million people before Chuseok. This accomplishment is attributable to the people’s active participation in vaccinations and the result of the Government’s all-embracing efforts to secure vaccine supplies coupled with our excellent inoculation capabilities and the hard work of medical professionals who have been doing their best.
The pace of vaccinations will continue to quicken further, and the expansion of age groups eligible for shots will make it possible to approach the vaccination of 80 percent of the total population, or 90 percent of adults aged 18 or older. Moreover, as the administration of the second dose accelerates, the goal of fully vaccinating 70 percent of the people by the end of October – which has already been moved up from the original plan – is expected to be met earlier than scheduled. If it happens, we will become the world’s fastest nation in terms of full inoculation as well as first dose rates.
As of now, we have the lowest fatality rate and number of new confirmed cases among OECD members. If a high vaccination rate can be reached amid these circumstances, we will be one of the safest countries from COVID-19. We will also meticulously prepare measures for a phased return to daily routines by studying those countries where the easing of epidemic prevention and control led to a resurgence of the virus. We will do all we can to create a new Korean response model that once again sets an example for the world – one that strikes a balance among vaccinations, epidemic prevention and control and daily lives.
Today, the Framework Act on Carbon Neutrality will be promulgated. Korea will become the 14th country to legally define carbon neutrality. This clearly shows our commitment to the 2050 carbon neutrality goal and has laid the legal foundation for its systematic implantation. The Government should do everything possible to prepare enforcement mandates and other follow-up measures.
The most urgent task is to put forth a heightened 2030 greenhouse gas reduction goal along with a 2050 carbon neutrality scenario by next month. We will have to fulfill our responsibilities as a member of the international community – set feasible goals that are as ambitious as possible and ensure they are implemented successfully. Also on the domestic front, we should achieve a grand transformation into a low-carbon society, including a bold energy transition and socio-economic structural innovations.
The industrial community and businesses are moving at a faster pace as well. At a time when a new trade order marked by stricter carbon regulations is increasingly becoming a reality, carbon neutrality is a more desperate matter for companies’ survival. Last week, 15 domestic companies, including the nation’s top 10 business groups, gathered to launch the Korea H2 Business Summit, which is very meaningful. It served as an opportunity to confirm domestic businesses’ commitment to cooperating and investing to turn the hydrogen industry into a pacesetter in the era of carbon neutrality. As affirmed many times, the Government will establish a clear vision to make the country a pacesetter in the hydrogen economy and devise a variety of support measures, including the creation of a hydrogen industry ecosystem.
Industries emitting a lot of carbon, such as steel, petrochemicals and cement, have also earnestly taken action to reduce their carbon emissions by investing in the development of related technologies. The automobile industry, too, has declared that it would achieve carbon neutrality at an early date. The Government will provide full support necessary while backing the efforts of businesses. Most of all, our policies will seek to ensure that SMEs do not fall behind in the carbon neutrality trend and can keep up.
I want to thank the Catholic Church for declaring a movement to practice carbon neutrality in everyday lives in a bid to achieve the goal as early as 2040. Carbon neutrality is a task that cannot be accomplished without the active participation of citizens. I hope that more carbon neutrality social movements start to proliferate.
The revision of the Military Court Act, which means a sweeping change in the military judicial system, will also be promulgated today. My Administration has aimed to address public distrust of the military judicial system and guarantee soldiers the right to a fair trial and victims their human rights, and those military reform efforts have finally come to fruition. Under the revised law, those involved in sexual offenses, deaths in the military and pre-enlistment crimes will be subject to the same type of investigation and trials as the general public. This will help remove all doubt about how fairly cases are handled. Even all appellate trials in the military court will be transferred to civilian courts, and the systems that place officers in the roles of chief judges and adjudicators will also be abolished, thus eliminating the influence of military commanders in the judicial process. I hope that this will be a significant turning point that improves human rights in the military and barracks culture by establishing fair investigations and trials while also weighing the unique circumstances surrounding crimes in the military.