Plenary 1: Climate Crisis and Global Leadership(Eng) 2020-11-27조회수:200
[Plenary 1: Climate Crisis and Global Leadership]
▣ Moderator: Sang-hyup Kim (President of the Jeju Research Institute)
- David G. Victor, (Professor of UC San Diego, Director of the Laboratory on International Law and Regulation)
- Jung-il Kim (Director General of Energy Innovation Policy to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy of the Republic of Korea)
- Alistair Ritchie (Director of Asia-Pacific Sustainability, Asia Society Policy Institute (ASPI))
- Tong-Q Lee (Director General of International Cooperation and Science Bureau, National Council on Climate and Air Quality of the Republic of Korea)
- Sang-min Shim (Assistant Professor of Korea National Diplomatic Academy (KNDA), Head of Center for International Law at KNDA)
◎ Sang-hyup Kim, President of the Jeju Research Institute
The session started off with remarks from Sang-hyup Kim, President of the Jeju Research Institute. He happily noted the fact that US will participate in climate actions under the leadership of the recent president-elect Joe Biden. Then he went on by mentioning while there have been ample talks on climate crisis, it seems we should now focus our attention to the relationship between pandemic and climate change. Global cooperation and governance are of utmost importance in tackling these issues.
◎ David G. Victor, Professor of UC San Diego
The talks continued with a presentation from David G. Victor, Professor of UC San Diego. Professor Victor emphasized that thegap between where we should be and where we are is still very huge at the moment. Moreover, reducing the atmospheric carbon is not easily done due to the strong inertia of it.
Then, he focused on how we’re going to make progress on this matter. His answer was to further pressure the technological frontier. If we look at the characteristics of technology, it depicts an S-curve; Slowly improving at the early stage (emergence), boosting throughout the diffusion stage, and stabilizing at the reconfiguration stage. He pointed out that we’re still at the emergence stage, very far from the technological frontier, especially regarding the 10 most carbon intensive sectors.
Professor Victor also proposed 3 solutions to facilitate technological development. First, break big problems into smaller ones. We need a sector by sector approach. For instance, different technologies will be needed for EVs and aviation. Second, work in the smallest groups possible but no smaller, a “clubs” idea. Third, design cooperation to deal with uncertainties.
Next, he shared his thoughts on cooperation among organizations and institutions around the globe. The focus revolved around how to cooperate with the Biden administration. Professor Victor noted that foreign policy of the US would be relatively straight forward but the key to success is to find ways to add value on the technology curve through partnerships with the US.
In closing, he pointed out the irony of the international leadership on climate change. The more leaders put effort on decarbonization, the less significance that country will have regarding the climate change issue. Therefore, the first thing would be to push the technological frontiers, and the second would be to form an incentive system so that the leaders could generate followers on this matter. This should also be the focus of the COP26.
Following the speech, President Kim asked him what would be the meaning of John Carry joining the White House. Professor Victor noted that he is not only highly experienced in foreign policy but also puts climate change on top of his agenda. And he’ll seek partnerships from Korea and China to make actual progress.
◎ Jung-il Kim, Director General of Energy Innovation Policy to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy of the Republic of Korea
The next speaker was Jung-il Kim, Director General of Energy Innovation Policy to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy of the Republic of Korea. He started out by mentioning today’s topic is quite meaningful given the tremendous uncertainties due to COVID-19. He shared that the Korean government is carrying out its part of pandemic response by implementing strict quarantine measures through utilization of rapid diagnostic tools, transparent information disclosure, and ICT-based epidemic surveillance. As a result, the Korean economy is gradually getting back on track without a full lockdown.
He emphasized the importance of a comprehensive recovery package in order to address climate change and boost the economy at the same time. Moreover, energy is the key pillar of the Korean Green New Deal. By accelerating energy transition and investing in energy infrastructure, the Korean government plans to establish 1) a sustainable and safer energy mix, 2) smart and resilient energy distribution systems, and 3) more efficient energy consumption patterns, ultimately enabling Korea to move towards carbon neutrality. He regarded these investments as a must for the sustainability of the economy and global competitiveness of the Korean companies.
The next focus of the talk was carbon neutrality. The US, EU, China, and Japan are all showing efforts on this topic. Korea also aims to take measures such as reducing fossil fuel-based power, wider deployment of CCUS, boosting renewables and green hydrogen, and seeking for better energy efficiency on the demand side.
However, no country can achieve this goal alone. Director General Kim called for sharing best practices and technological cooperation. Especially, he noted his hopes to make history with the US in Green Revolution through partnerships in renewables, hydrogen, and CCUS. His last remark was that COVID-19 could be a blessing in disguise and he believes that Korea, the US and other countries would find a way to turn this crisis into an opportunity.
Briefly after the speech, President Kim asked his opinion on what would be one specific sector that Korea and US should cooperate. Director General Kim mentioned there should be answers so many, but ICT and green technologies such as EVs, and renewables would be a few of the most important ones.
◎ Alistair Ritchie, Director of Asia-Pacific Sustainability, Asia Society Policy Institute (ASPI)
The floor was passed on to Alistair Ritchie, Director of Asia-Pacific Sustainability, Asia Society Policy Institute (ASPI). President Kim asked him for his insights on the carbon market cooperation, carbon pricing, and leadership roles of the US and China. Director Ritchie firstly shared the drivers for the carbon pricing. Paris Agreement was one, and the increasing interaction between trade policy and climate policy, such as the carbon border adjustment mechanism could be another. Theses drivers call for cost effective measures for GHG emission reduction and that’s where emission trading system comes in. It guarantees the emission reductions while protecting the competitiveness of industries, and funds GHG emission technologies.
Then he provided some examples on the status quo of the ETS. If we look at the EU, they’re strengthening the emission trading system to align with the Net Zero goals by tightening the ETS cap. From next year, the Korean ETS covers 70% of national GHG emissions which shows that it could work in an export-focused, energy intensive country. China is preparing for a national ETS as well and other Asian countries are lining up to follow suit.
Director Ritchie noted that an efficient ETS system should be aligned with the net zero targets by converting the targets into the ETS cap. Decarbonization of the power sector by passing through carbon cost to power price is also important and lastly, scaling up auctions should take place to actually drive the Polluter pays principle.
Regarding the leadership roles, he called for ambitious NDCs, specific policies and measures that are aligned with Net Zero emissions for the US. Next, he suggested China to enhance their NDCs, and implement absolute targets and fixed caps for their ETS. Moreover, they’d need to stop constructing new coal power plants.
He thought that North East Asia is a fruitful area for cooperation to the US. The countries can share experiences on carbon pricing, ETS, clean energy transition, decarbonization, and article 6 implementation methods. Moreover, reestablishing the US-China working group, reaching out to the ASEAN and scaling up climate actions, or China sharing experiences in carbon pricing with India could all be options.
- Sang-hyup Kim) How do you see the development of the situation for climate negotiations, regarding the newly elected US administration, China, and other countries?
- Tong-Q Lee) I feel the wind is changing now. I welcome the return of the US to the Paris Agreement, and Chinese commitment for Net Zero by 2060 will also build political momentum. I’d like to emphasize a structural approach for green transition because the implementation is what actually matters. In this regard I agree to Professor Victor’s approach that we should break down big problems into smaller ones and we should work in smallest groups. For example, the US, China, Korea, and Japan could cooperate in the renewable energies sector by establishing a regional supply chain. Moreover, small group cooperation or bilateral cooperation could better shape up the momentum towards climate actions.
- Sang-hyup Kim) Before moving on to the next question, I’d like to ask Professor Victor’s opinion on quadrilateral cooperation regarding the US, China, Japan and Korea.
- David G. Victor) I think Director General Lee is exactly on point. Even though the Biden administration isn’t formally in power yet, I think the industrial ministries should lay foundations on what the quadrilateral cooperation will mean to each other. There could be powerful bilateral partnerships between US-China, and US-EU as well.
- Sang-hyup Kim) Now, I understand there would be many sensitive issues in the climate agenda, such as border adjustment issues. What’s your take on the relations between the US and China, Professor Shim?
- Sang-min Shim) While the rivalry between the two countries is evident, I still see a great potential for them to work together: renewables, nuclear energy, and so on. However, I do have some words of caution when it comes to how to nudge China for more climate-friendly policy measures. Harsh measures such as strict border adjustments from EU might even backfire in the case of China. In order to push the climate agenda forward, I reckon that some compromise should be necessary.
- Sang-hyup Kim) Professor Victor, how would you respond to this remark?
- David G. Victor) I agree to Professor Shim’s point. Given the fragile international relations, destroying economic relations might just set ourselves back regarding the climate agenda.
- Sang-hyup Kim) There’s a proverb saying that focus on the differences you’d create conflict, but focus on the commonalities you’d enhance cooperation. I hope there could be a Climate Détente, or a Green Détente that would positively impact the North East Asian geopolitics.
- Sang-hyup Kim) Now I’d like to ask Director Ritchie if we’d need American cap and trade legislation in order to make carbon pricing happen?
- Alistair Ritchie) The role of carbon pricing is decarbonizing the power sector and generating funds for deeply carbonized industries. The critical point of EU ETS is the innovation fund. The benefits from it is invested into green technologies such as hydrogen steel making or CCUS in cement industry. Decarbonization of the industrial sector highly depends on effective carbon pricing. While policy measures aren’t always cost effective, I think ETS could play a key role in making coal more expensive. It also reduces the diplomatic tension when it comes to international cooperation.
- Sang-hyup Kim) My last question, to Professor Victor: One thing that the US, China, Japan, and Korea have common is nuclear power (plants). While some dislike it, we cannot disregard the fact that it’s very low carbon. To my knowledge, John Carry, who will be the special envoy of the US, also favors the future generation nuclear power plants. Please share your views on this issue.
- David G. Victor) I also think this is a very important issue. It has two sides to the story. For western countries, Japan, and Korea we need to stop the premature shut downs of power plants. While in the emerging markets, especially in China, lots of them are under construction. Acknowledging the fact that nuclear power plays a role in addressing climate change, the vital export industry, which Korea plays a big role, should be kept and the US would have a say on the agreements regarding the nuclear materials.
- Sang-hyup Kim) Since we’re running short of time, I’d like to conclude with something I always say to my colleagues and students: If not now, when? If not us, who? Thank you.