Green Party Korea’s statement on the 20th meeting of parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP 20)

  • The principle that life matters more than money should prevail in the UNFCCC COP 20 in Peru!
  • Life is more essential! Let us pay for the cost of carbon emission reduction!
  • We call for South Korea’s Park administration to abandon its plan to increase nuclear power and kick off an effort to cut back carbon emission on a full scale.

The 20th meeting of parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP 20) has convened since December 1 in Lima, Peru. The Earth’s average temperature rose 0.85 degrees Celsius in the past 133 years. If this trend continues, the Earth will be no more. The UNFCCC COP 20 needs to conclude discussions on major agendas of a new climate regime, which is set to kick-start from 2020. 196 parties need to submit their voluntary carbon emission reduction goals to the UN earlier before COP21.

It is crystal clear that the sum of all parties’ carbon emission reductions should ensure carbon dioxide concentration in the air does not exceed 450 to 480 ppm so that the Earth’s temperature does not rise more than two degrees Celsius. Furthermore, if countries vulnerable to climate change are to survive, the target temperature rise should be set at 1.5 degrees Celsius, not two degrees Celsius. Green Party Korea calls for all governments to agree to a target that can prevent a disastrous climate change.

As of 2013, South Korea is the world’s seventh largest emitter of greenhouse gases. The country has the world’s 19th biggest accumulated carbon emissions and posted the highest growth of carbon emissions among OECD members. In other words, South Korea has played a large part in raising the planet’s temperature. In 2009, then-South Korean president Lee Myung-bak declared “low carbon green growth,” set a goal to scale back carbon emissions by 30 percent from business-as-usual (BAU) scenario, and pledged its implementation. Nonetheless, South Korea’s emissions of greenhouses gases increased consistently. His “green growth” drive resulted in the destructive development of the nation’s four major rivers and expansion of nuclear power generation, a policy his successor president Park Geun-hye continues to pursue. President Park, who also relies on nuclear power to deal with climate change, is pushing ahead with the plan to add 14 to 15 nuclear power plants by 2035.

The experience of the Fukushima nuclear disaster demonstrates that nuclear power can never be an alternative solution for coping with climate change. The South Korean government often alters the system for mandatory allocation of renewable energy, fueling regress of the domestic solar power generation industry. Other efforts also faltered, as the implementation of the ‘low carbon vehicle fund’ has been postponed and carbon trading system was loosened. Green Party Korea urges the South Korean government to scrap outdated energy policy that adopts nuclear power as an alternative for addressing climate change and seek a transition to sustainable energy policy based on demand management, higher efficiency and expansion of renewable energy. We also urge the government to fulfill its responsibility in reducing carbon emissions as the seventh biggest emitter.

The Fukushima nuclear disaster’s radioactive pollution persists. The East Asia has China, the world’s biggest carbon emitter; South Korea, the seventh biggest emitter and; Japan, the fifth biggest emitter. The region shows one of the most intensive consumption of fossil fuel, and China and South Korea continue to construct nuclear power plants. This is why it is crucial for the three countries in the East Asia to seek a transition under a new climate regime. China has been dealt a huge blow from frequent droughts and serious air pollution. Japan suffered the Fukushima nuclear disaster, and South Korea lost more than 300 lives to the sunken ferry Sewol in April. The large-scale tragedies stemmed from the climate that puts emphasis on profit and money over life. The same goes for a response to climate change. A lethargic attempt to reduce carbon emissions in fear of an immediate economic cost would lead to a climate disaster and massive casualties. 

Life is more important. Let us pay the cost of carbon emission reduction. Let us do away with fossil fuel subsidy and make sure everyone has access to basic energy services. Let us dramatically expand renewable energy. Green Party Korea will actively play its part to achieve a just energy transition on the Korean Peninsula and abandonment of nuclear power generation. Green Party Korea calls for South Korea, North Korea, China and Japan to become a completely nuclear-free zone. Green Party Korea will be committed to making East Asia free of nuclear power plants and nuclear weapons and endeavor to accomplish a climate justice all across the globe. Let us change politics, not climate.

 

8, December, 2014 

Green Party Korea

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