[Herald Interview] UN special envoy urges Korea to join Egypt's green initiativeBy Sanjay Kumar
Published : July 25, 2023 - 16:38
INCHEON -- South Korea can play an important role in Egypt's initiative for green and smart industries, with a shared goal in building a sustainable future for the African country, said UN Climate Change High-Level Champion for Egypt Mahmoud Mohieldin.
He was referring to Egypt's National Initiative for Green Smart Projects, launched by the Egyptian government in 2022. It is designed to promote participation from various stakeholders to make concerted efforts for climate change.
Korea’s recent investments in new technologies such as electric vehicle batteries, digitalization, capacity development, technical assistance, and partnerships in research and development would push efforts by the two countries to achieve renewable energy targets, according to Mohieldin in an interview with The Korea Herald. To do so, there should be more active climate diplomacy between the two countries, he added.
Mohieldin, who is also serving as UN Special Envoy on Financing the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, was in Songdo, Incheon to attend the 36th meeting of the Green Climate Fund Board from July 10 to 13 to discuss 12 funding proposals and the GCF's 2024–2027 strategic plan.
In 2022, the Ministry of Economy and Finance of Korea made its first contribution to the Adaptation Fund, aimed at assisting developing countries to adapt to the impacts of climate change. The contribution plan was announced during a high-level contributor dialogue held on Nov. 15, 2022, on the sidelines of the COP27 UN Climate Summit in Egypt.
Under this plan, the Korean government pledged to provide a total of 3.6 billion won ($2.8 million) to the Adaptation Fund over the next three years, starting in 2023. The fund amounts to 1.2 billion won annually.
In addition, during a bilateral summit between Egypt and Korea in January last year, the two countries reached an agreement to enhance collaboration in digital and green infrastructure projects and focus on initiatives in ICT-based smart transport, eco-friendly energy solutions and advancements in education.
The two countries signed a memorandum of understanding on financial cooperation through the Economic Development Cooperation Fund that outlines their commitment to allocate $1 billion for joint projects from 2022 to 2026.
The Korean government has set a national target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent compared to 2018 levels by 2030, aligning with the goals of the Paris Agreement to limit temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. In line with this commitment, Korea has expressed its willingness to engage in bilateral climate arrangements with other governments to establish collaborative foundations for conducting emissions reduction projects abroad.
When asked why he believes Korea would be able to reduce fossil fuel dependency up to 60 percent by 2030, Mohieldin pointed to Korea's impressive transformation fueled by investments in human capital, advanced infrastructure, and a strategic shift away from the hydrocarbon sector as factors.
"Korea has at least sufficient elements in one of the factors of change -- technology, and is not very constrained in another factor -- finance," said Mohieldin, touting Korea’s private sector finance and investment in technology, education, and digitalization as driving forces for an emerging green ecosystem.
"That's why I'm placing my bet," stressed Mohieldin
He also urged Asia's fourth-largest economy to encourage its private sector to invest in Egypt, calling it an attractive market that has cohesive trade relations with neighboring countries in the region.
On widening gap between advanced and developing countries in clean energy financing, he called for better collaborations to foster a sustainable future.
"We need to tackle emissions, adaptation, loss, and damage holistically," Mohieldin stated, underscoring the interconnected nature of climate issues.
He outlined finance, technology, and behavioral change as three key elements for transformative change, acknowledging funding commitments beyond the previously agreed $100 billion.
"One trillion dollars is required, and this is excluding China," said Mohieldin, suggesting an estimate of investment needed to combat climate change.
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