France seeks new international body to tackle climate change
By Kim Se-jeong
With Rio+20 less than a week away, a carbon forum between France and Korea last week couldn’t be more timely.
Ambassador of France Elisabeth Laurin called for the creation of a new international body dedicated to responding to environmental challenges.
“I hope further discussions will happen at the Rio+20 on this,” the ambassador said at a welcoming speech during the forum held in Seoul, Tuesday.
Rio+20 is the United Nations conference on sustainable development taking place in Rio de Janeiro later this week.
Representatives from Korea will be working there to shore up support in order to turn the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), a non-profit organization based in Seoul, into an international organization.
The GGGI was established to follow through President Lee Myung-bak’s “Green Growth” campaign, to help countries formulate green growth plans, facilitate public-private sector cooperation, and undertake research.
A two-day French-Korean forum on carbon reduction strategies and possible solutions was to confer on different approaches the two sides have adopted to approach the issue.
For Korea, the emphasis is on acquiring technologies or learning policies that can immediately reduce greenhouse gas emissions and that in the long run will transform the national economy.
This makes sense as heavy industries, a backbone of the Korean economy, are no longer sustainable. Korea is on the list of 10 countries that produce the most greenhouse gas emissions.
A recent development is the emission trading system approved by lawmakers last month, a move expected to bring in cash to the pool of funds for green growth projects.
For France, reducing CO2 emissions isn’t a dire challenge.
According to Philippe Geiger, the deputy director general for international affairs at the French Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy, France has its greenhouse gas emissions under control. Levels are now in decline. Strong agriculture, service and R&D sectors are attributed as contributing to the reduction.
Geiger explained that policies helped too.
The French government offers incentives to private companies and consumers that make environmentally-conscious decisions; impose strict building codes; use biomass and nuclear energy for electricity generation; and educate the public on the subject.
In 2007, former President of France Nicolas Sarkozy launched a new initiative called the Grenelle de l’environnement.
This is an open forum inviting policymakers, representatives from public, private sectors, non-profit organizations, academic institutes and labor organizations with the goal of unifying positions on key points of sustainable development.
The two countries might have more in common in their approach to nuclear energy.