Fellow Koreans, residents of Chungcheongnam-do Province and citizens of Boryeong,
My visit here today reminds me of waters off Taean once covered with oil from the 2007 spill. In 2016, the International Union for Conservation of Nature acknowledged Taean National Park’s outstanding ecological value and its remarkable state of management and preservation. As many as 1.23 million volunteers – a number unprecedented in world history – flocked to Taean to clean up the oil spill. The power of our people miraculously restored our sea from the devastation. I believe that the confidence of Chungcheongnam-do to usher in a sustainable future also stems from the power of its residents who helped revive the sea. Symbolizing an ecofriendly city, Boryeong has long been loved by many for its mud festival and beautiful islands.
Chungcheongnam-do is a truly magnificent region. Blessed with a natural environment and abundant mudflats, the province is a place where everyone wants to visit and live, but it has long sacrificed itself for the industrialization of the Republic of Korea. Out of Korea’s 58 coal-fired power plants, 28 – nearly half – are located here. One of the regions most densely packed with carbon-emitting plants, it was once one of this country’s domestic sources of greenhouse gas emissions and springtime fine dust.
However – even before the central Government – Chungcheongnam-do declared its goal to be carbon neutral and has actively participated in international discussions on climate change and going coal-free. The province shut down the first and second units at Korea’s largest coal-fired power plant complex earlier than scheduled and embarked on a higher leap together while conserving clean air, water and nature. This historic transformation is taking place here in the province that spearheaded Korea’s fossil fuel-powered industrialization.
Breaking away from the era when the province was at the forefront of sacrificing the environment, Chungcheongnam-do now intends to chart a new course to create jobs through clean energy and the green economy. The Republic of Korea’s great transformation toward carbon neutrality by 2050 is set to begin.
I extend my gratitude and a round of applause to encourage the residents of Chungcheongnam-do and citizens of Boryeong who are taking on challenges today along the path toward sustainable development. My encouragement goes to the businesses in Chungcheongnam-do that are unlocking a prosperous future through harmony and shared growth as well as Governor Yang Seung-jo, Mayor of Boryeong Kim Dong-il and relevant officials at the provincial and municipal governments. I am also deeply grateful to the ruling Democratic Party of Korea’s Policy Committee Chairperson Hong Ihk-pyo, K-New Deal Committee head Lee Kwang-jae and Chungcheongnam-do Chapter Chairperson Kang Hoon-sik for joining us to cheer on the province’s taking on these challenges.
Residents of Chungcheongnam-do,
The province is dynamic with traditional and contemporary elements; agricultural, fishery and high-tech IT industries; and coastal and inland regions. To date, it has led the nation’s economic development through the stable supply of electricity and has served as the base for the growth of our country’s mainstay industries. The region has spearheaded the changes of the times on the basis of life and biodiversity. From now on, Chungcheongnam-do will make a bold transition to the Green New Deal – an economic and environmental paradigm shift. Grand transformations of energy, the economy and the environment will be achieved together. It will initiate a fair transformation where everyone can be a part of the new beginning without losing jobs.
First of all, we will begin with energy. By 2034, 12 units at coal-fired power plants will be shut down in Chungcheongnam-do alone, and the province will be transformed into a new and renewable energy hub by creating an offshore wind farm and solar power generation complex. The Daesan Hydrogen Fuel Cell Power Plant is the first and largest of its kind in the world. It will use byproduct hydrogen from processing at petrochemical plants as a raw material to produce fuel cells and will also act as a mega air purifier to filter out even ultrafine dust. Through this circular economy that recycles the byproducts of manufacturing processes, Chungcheongnam-do will catch two rabbits – economic growth and environmental preservation – at the same time.
Chungcheongnam-do’s “grey economy” will be switched to green. The province will be reborn as a hydrogen energy hub by utilizing its special hydrogen regulation-free zone to push ahead with projects to build a byproduct hydrogen shipping center and blue hydrogen plant in Dangjin. It will lead eco-friendly mobility and the bioindustry through rechargeable batteries, electric and hydrogen-fueled cars and the smart farm industry. If a national park is created through ecological restoration in Seocheon as well as Bunamho Lake, which was formed through a reclamation project, and the marine ecosystem in Garorim Bay is restored, a natural environment 100 times the area of Yeouido will be revived. This west coast belt will bring about an ecosystem-focused economy, thereby serving as a driving force to revitalize maritime ecology experiential tours and the regional economy.
Chungcheongnam-do is not only renewing its economy and environment but also seeking inclusive growth that embraces people. It is setting an example of a “just transformation” that rewards workers who have been unemployed with quality jobs. Once again, I would like to emphasize that the transition to a renewable energy, which replaces existing coal-fired power generation, should be carried out in a fair way so that no one loses their jobs and the local economy does not suffer a blow. The Government will be in a true sense the partner of Chungcheongnam-do. Assisting the province’s energy transition and hydrogen economy, we will join the just transformation that will revive the local economy. By 2025, the public and private sectors will unite to invest 31.2 trillion won and create more than 230,000 jobs. We will actively support the success of Chungcheongnam-do.
Fellow Koreans and residents of Chungcheongnam-do and Boryeong,
The Green New Deal is the path the world seeks to simultaneously accomplish climate change response and economic growth. Europe and the United States have mobilized all of their national capabilities to launch a Green New Deal, and multinational companies are taking the initiative on environmental protection by pledging carbon neutrality and RE100 (100 percent Renewable Energy). The world is now running together. We can also take the lead in the Green New Deal. With an extraordinary resolve that this is the only way for us to survive, we have to revamp politics, the economy, society and culture. More than anything else, we will usher in an era of balanced national development through a regionally led Green New Deal that is closely tied to people’s lives.
We have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 10.8 percent over the past two years of 2019 and 2020, after recording the highest emissions in 2018. Although the COVID-19 pandemic was a factor, such policies as the seasonal management system for fine dust and the early closure of and operational restrictions on coal-fired power plants played a significant role. We have to analyze the causes further, but what is clear is that we can reduce greenhouse gases in proportion to our own efforts. I would like the people to also have confidence in achieving the goal of carbon neutrality.
The Government has designated this year as the starting point for the Republic of Korea’s green transition and will invest a total of 8 trillion won into the Green New Deal. We will use special regulation-free zones and regional new deal venture funds to make sure the Green New Deal flourishes in Chungcheongnam-do and spreads throughout the country.
A democratic transition of energy will also be achieved. Authority will be transferred to local governments so that energy policies can be established in accordance with local conditions. The energy transition will be accomplished with the power of inclusiveness so that no income groups or regions are marginalized. When we pull together, we are stronger and can go even higher and farther. If the central and local governments, the National Assembly, labor and management, and civic groups come together, the Republic of Korea’s grand transformation toward carbon neutrality will succeed without fail.
March is a time of recovery and a leap forward with shoots sprouting. A variety of trees will grow taller and lusher in a cleaner environment. The success of Chungcheongnam-do’s energy transition and the Green New Deal strategy is a milestone that measures the success of the Republic of Korea’s carbon neutrality. I join the people to vigorously root for Chungcheongnam-do as it takes on these challenges. The Government will by all means usher in a new era in which the economy, the environment, nature and people coexist.