Honorable Prime Minister Boris Johnson, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa, Excellencies,
Glasgow’s oak forests lead us into a mythical world where humans mingle with wildlife. Nature has long been awaiting us. Now is the time for us to take action and show it our affection. COP26 will be the starting point. I hope that we will be able to prevent further global warming and take action for long-waiting nature.
Today, I’d like to make three promises and one proposal. First, Korea will upgrade its 2030 Nationally Determined Contributions and cut greenhouse gas emissions by more than 40 percent relative to the level in 2018. This 14 percent increase from the previous target is a daring goal, and it is very challenging to steeply reduce greenhouse gas emissions in a short span of time.
It is not easy, but the Korean people have decided that now is the time for action. Korea has legislated 2050 Carbon Neutrality and announced relevant scenarios. Included in them is also a plan to reduce methane emissions 30 percent by 2030. Methane is an important key to addressing the climate crisis because it contributes to the greenhouse effect much more than carbon dioxide. Korea will actively participate in efforts to cut methane emission by joining the Global Methane Pledge.
Second, Korea – the only country to have succeeded with post-World War II reforestation – will lead collective forest restoration efforts. Trees are living greenhouse gas sinks. Growing trees and reviving forests are important solutions to the climate crisis. They also constitute a way that can help prevent desertification and promote peace in border areas. We welcome the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use and will actively cooperate with developing countries in their efforts for forest recovery. Moreover, through inter-Korean forestry cooperation, we will reduce greenhouse gas emissions on the entire Korean Peninsula. I ask for the international community’s support and cooperation for the success of the World Forestry Congress in Korea next May.
Third, Korea will join the global efforts to reduce coal use. Following the inauguration of my Administration, eight coal-fired power plants were shut down earlier than originally scheduled. By the end of this year, two additional plants are scheduled to close. We will put a complete end to coal-fired power generation by 2050. We have already stopped approving new coal-fired power plants in Korea, and official financial support for the construction of new coal-fired power plants overseas was suspended in April this year.
Korea will actively cooperate with developing countries on their transition to a low-carbon economy, including the development of renewable energy. Korean companies operating overseas will also reduce carbon emissions. Our climate finance support will be continued through the Green Climate Fund and the Global Green Growth Institute, and cooperation with developing countries in the field of green technology will be bolstered through the Climate Technology Centre and Network.
The proposal I would like to make is that the Youth Climate Summit be held on a regular basis. Carbon neutrality will be difficult to achieve through the efforts of governments and businesses alone. This is a goal that can only be accomplished when everyone participates. If older generations and future generations – those directly impacted by the climate crisis – find solutions together, it will allow humanity to quicken its pace toward a sustainable world. I ask you world leaders to take interest in and provide support for a regular Youth Climate Summit.
For nature’s sake, all people should join hands and all countries come together. Let us not find ourselves later regretting that we failed to take action earlier in Earth’s behalf.