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P4G climate summit opens in Seoul

South Korean President Moon Jae-in speaks during the P4G summit at Dongdaemun Design Plaza in Seoul on Sunday. (Yonhap)
South Korean President Moon Jae-in speaks during the P4G summit at Dongdaemun Design Plaza in Seoul on Sunday. (Yonhap)

The P4G summit kicked off in Seoul on Sunday, bringing together top government officials and heads of international organizations around the world to discuss climate change and ways to achieve green growth at a critical time when there are growing calls for a sustainable, green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who is hosting the two-day event, vowed to take on a larger role in fighting climate change as he attended the opening ceremony held at Dongdaemun Design Plaza in central Seoul. This year’s event, which was originally planned for last year but was delayed due to the pandemic, is being held in a hybrid format, featuring a mix of live and recorded addresses. 

It is the first multilateral conference on the environment hosted by the Korean government.

In his opening address, Moon pledged to significantly increase the amount of Official Development Assistance that goes to climate- and green-related projects by 2025. He also said the government will bolster support for developing countries to implement green growth policies, through a new $5 million fund established by the Seoul-based Global Green Growth Institute. 

Moon also expressed Korea’s intent to host the 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties slated for 2023. 

The president also pledged to additionally raise the country’s target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions set for 2030, and report the changed goal at the upcoming COP26. 

Seoul had earlier announced its goal of cutting carbon emissions by 24.4 percent from the 2017 level by 2030, which is part of the country’s blueprint to attain carbon neutrality by 2050. 

The president also reiterated promises he made earlier at the US-led climate summit, including Korea’s commitment to end public financing for overseas coal projects.

“The solution to tackle the climate crisis facing the humanity is to act together, and through cooperation between developing and advanced nations,” he said, vowing to make Seoul responsible for bridging the gap between developing and advanced nations. 

More than 60 top government officials and heads of international organizations are attending the summit, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, as well as Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and John Kerry, US special presidential envoy for climate.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria are also among participants.

Under the theme “Green We Go, Change We Make,” the opening ceremony kicked off with a series of vocal and dance performances.

The Leaders’ Session, addressing themes of green recovery, carbon neutrality and public-private sector cooperation, was to take place following the opening ceremony. Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum was to give an opening address for the 90-minute session, which consists of a series of prerecorded video speeches by 34 chiefs and senior officials of states and 20 international organization leaders from around the world. 

On Monday, Moon and other leaders will adopt the Seoul Declaration to end the two-day summit. The doctrine will highlight green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and set out detailed goals and commitments in response to climate change.

P4G, which stands for "Partnering for Green Growth and the Global Goals 2030," is a global initiative that seeks solutions for climate action and green economic growth through public-private partnerships and aims to deliver on the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement. The forum involves 12 countries, including Korea, Denmark, South Africa, Indonesia and Mexico, as well as international organizations and private firms. The inaugural summit was held in Denmark in 2018.

This year’s summit, under the theme “Inclusive Green Recovery Towards Carbon Neutrality,” consists of five thematic sessions on water, food and agriculture, energy, cities and circular economy, and 10 special sessions on issues such as climate change response, inclusive green growth and sustainable development.

The P4G session is also set to pave the way for another major summit COP26 to be held in Glasgow, Scotland in November. At the upcoming session, the 195 countries that signed the Paris Agreement will come together to review and report back on their progress on the commitments made under the accord. Adopted in 2015, the Paris Agreement set out an ambitious goal of limiting the global temperature rise to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels or 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.

Ahead of the P4G opening, Moon held summit talks with Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen of Denmark via video link on Sunday. During their talks, the two leaders agreed to elevate their bilateral ties to a “comprehensive green strategic partnership” to reflect their countries’ deep cooperation within a broad range of sectors such as renewable energy, sustainability, green transition, life science and health care, technology and innovation as well as political and economic cooperation, according to Cheong Wa Dae. 

The two sides also stressed to further strengthen their ties within the renewable energy field, in particular offshore wind power. 

They also agreed to continue cooperation in the shipping sector and efforts to ensure maritime security. 

The leaders also discussed the North Korea situation, with Frederiksen affirming Denmark’s support to Seoul’s engagement efforts with Pyongyang to achieve peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula.

By Ahn Sung-mi (sahn@heraldcorp.com)
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