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New IPCC head urges carbon pricing

The newly elected chairman of a U.N. panel on climate change pledged Monday to urge the countries to price carbon emissions as part of the efforts to curb global warming. 

Lee Hoe-sung, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, speaks during a news conference in Seoul on Monday. (Korea Meteorological Administration)
Lee Hoe-sung, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, speaks during a news conference in Seoul on Monday. (Korea Meteorological Administration)

“During the election campaign, I realized how much the countries longed for the organization’s leading role in solving the problem of climate change. The practical tool for that, I believe, is the pricing of carbon emissions,” Lee Hoe-sung, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said in a news conference.

“The pricing methods vary and it must be chosen based on each country’s conditions. But one thing is sure that they need to pay as much as they release greenhouse gases. There’s an unavoidable need to price the carbon emissions.”

Lee was elected the sixth IPCC chairman on Wednesday last week to succeed Rajendra Pachauri from India. He competed with five other candidates -- from the U.S., Belgium, Switzerland, Austria and Sierra Leone -- beating the Belgian rival 78-56 in the final round.

Established by the U.N. Environment Program and World Meteorological Organization in 1988, the IPCC is the core body for joint research on climate change. It leads the direction of comprehensive climate policies for over 190 countries.

Unlike his predecessors, Lee, an environment policy professor at Korea University, is the first leader who has expertise in energy economics.

“I believe the chairman’s role is to synthesize and integrate the scientific judgement and messages that are concluded by the IPCC’s working groups, and to deliver them to policy-makers and decision-makers in the world,” Lee added.

“While climate change has been perceived as a problem, a danger and a pain, one thing I can surely say is that there are solutions and opportunities behind that problem. They are hidden behind the problem but through such solutions, there can come opportunities.”

The new chairman also vowed to urge developing countries to actively participate in the IPCC’s moves.

“The substantive participation of developing countries is essential to curbing climate change. I will put efforts to bring developing countries to join the IPCC that leads the soft power of analyzing and producing scientific information. The goal cannot be reached without developing countries’ engagement.”

The new chairman started his official duty last Friday. He is expected to serve the position for five to seven years, Seoul officials said. The IPCC chairman’s term is flexible upon publication of the body’s scientific report on climate change trend.

Lee will be responsible for the sixth IPCC Assessment Report and two special reports during his term, he added. The IPCC’s assessment report offers a policy guideline for countries and provides scientific information for the interstate negotiations in the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.

By Lee Hyun-jeong (rene@heraldcorp.com)
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