SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea’s Environment Minister Maanee Lee said on Thursday a U.N. meeting in Copenhagen may not reach an agreement, although Asia’s fourth-largest economy will play a “bridging” role between developed and developing nations.
In December nearly 200 nations will meet in Copenhagen to wrap a broader agreement to replace the Kyoto protocol and bind big developing nations and the United States to emissions curbs.
But it is said to be at risk of failure as poorer nations will not commit to emissions curbs unless the rich do much more to rein in carbon pollution. Under the Kyoto Protocol, only 37 industrialised nations are committed to cutting emissions by an average of about 5 percent from 1990 levels between 2008-2012.
“It is true that China, India and newly industrializing nations have wide, different opinions, strongly requiring financial and technical support from the Annex I industrialised nations ... We see such demand reasonable,” Lee said in an interview as part of the Reuters’ Climate Change and Alternative Energy Summit.
“It is hard to be optimistic about the (Copenhagen) meeting ... and hard to see if the meeting will have a result.”
But Lee said South Korea, Asia’s fourth largest economy, will play a “bridging” role between developed and developing countries in the international meeting to bring the best results.
“I can clearly emphasize that Korea will lead efforts to reduce the greenhouse gas emission and do its best to reduce damages (from emissions),” he said, adding Korea would actively participate in international carbon trading from 2012.
The U.N. Environment Programme recently accredited Korea’s green growth efforts. Korea will invest 107 trillion won ($87.45 billion), or 2 percent of its annual GDP, in environment-related industries over the next five years.
The country with the fastest emission growth among OECD members pledged last month to set a 2020 emissions reduction target. It set a range of targets, using 2005 as its base, from an 8 percent increase to a 4 percent fall by 2020 and will decide this year which option it will pursue.
South Korea’s emissions doubled in the 15 years to 2005.
“With aiming high, the environment ministry hopes to set up a target as high as possible to meet. We prefer the 4 percent fall option,” Lee said.
He added the world’s fifth-largest buyer of crude and second-largest buyer of liquefied natural gas (LNG) will increase its consumption of renewable and nuclear energy resources. The government wants to raise renewable energy consumption to 11 percent of total consumption by 2030 from 2.5 percent in 2008.
Additional report by Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent in Oslo; Editing by Jon Loades-Carter