Former UN chief calls for concrete action to fight climate change
By Park Jae-hyuk
DAEGU ― President Yoon Suk-yeol emphasized Tuesday that Korea needs the “right mix” of nuclear power, renewable energy sources and natural gas to fulfill its responsibility and role for the international community’s efforts to achieve carbon neutrality.
He made the remarks at the 28th World Gas Conference held in the southeastern city of Daegu.
“From the longer-term perspective, we need innovative efforts to significantly reduce carbon emissions and switch to the hydrogen industry,” Yoon said during the conference’s opening ceremony. “The government will increase investments to develop technologies that can reduce carbon emissions, and will set up a stable hydrogen supply chain by securing production bases here and overseas.”
He added that the private sector should take the initiative in making investments overseas and exploiting resources, amid the growing importance of energy security in the face of uncertainties about raw material supply.
After the speech, the president also looked around exhibition booths of domestic and foreign companies, including QatarEnergy, ExxonMobil, SK E&S, Hyundai Motor and the Korea Gas Corp.
He particularly expressed interest in SK E&S’ drones powered by liquid hydrogen, as well as Hyundai Motor’s Elec City fuel-cell electric bus and Xcient fuel-cell electric truck.
“Drones using liquid hydrogen must be lighter,” Yoon said after listening to an explanation from SK E&S CEO Choo Hyeong-wook.
The opening ceremony was followed by former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s keynote speech on the sustainable energy transition towards carbon neutrality.
“We have no time to spare. We are approaching fast to the tipping point,” Ban said. “Urgent action is needed to change the paradigm of our lifestyles and energy uses. Our economy should be decarbonized.”
He said he expects carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) technologies to play a major role in reducing carbon emissions from natural gas power plants, citing a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an intergovernmental body of the U.N. responsible for advancing knowledge on human-induced climate change.
The former top diplomat also criticized the reluctance of developed countries in financing developing countries to achieve the energy transition required, emphasizing that financial support is at the mercy of their political will.
He claimed that developed countries have attributed their passive attitudes on climate change to their recent spending to help war-torn Ukraine and its people.
“Concrete action will change the world and realize a better future for all humanity,” he said.
This is the first time for Korea and the third time for Asia to host the triennial conference which first started in 1931 in London.
Until its closing on Friday, the conference will present nearly 100 sessions covering a range of strategic, commercial and technical topics facing the gas industry.
Around 20,000 people and 470 companies from more than 80 countries will attend this year’s event.
Clumsy event management
The international event’s organizing committee, however, caused controversy for abruptly prohibiting Daegu correspondents and reporters who preregistered for the event from having access to the one-hour opening ceremony held between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m.
The organizer had initially asked the preregistered reporters last week to arrive at the venue before 9 a.m., but the night before the opening ceremony, it sent an email notifying the reporters that they would not be able to enter the venue until 11 a.m.
“You are advised not to cover the opening ceremony, due to the Korean government’s embargo request,” the organizer said in the email.
The main event of the conference was opened only to presidential office correspondents, so the preregistered reporters at the venue had to refer to a press release to check the president’s speech.
In response, the minor opposition Justice Party issued a statement criticizing Yoon’s indifference to journalists outside of the capital area.
SOURCE: The Korea Times