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South Korea urged to take lead against climate change

Dec 31, 2008 - Asia Pulse

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Tuesday urged his fellow South Koreans to take the lead in international efforts to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases that cause global warming.

In a New Year's message in Korean, Ban called on the South Korean government to actively work with the United Nations, which has designated 2009 as the year focusing on the issue of climate change.

"The international community is anticipating South Korea's role and contributions commensurate with its national power, which stands at the world's 10th biggest," Ban said.

"Against this backdrop, I, as Korean secretary-general of the United Nations, will do my best to secure peace in the world."

Ban described global warming as "threatening the future of humankind and the earth" and a problem "that should be tackled by the international community on a top priority basis."

Ban thanked South Koreans for their full support, allowing him to perform successfully as chief of the global body since his inauguration early last year.

In a recent public survey for the next president, Ban ranked in popularity second only to Park Geun-hey, former head of South Korea's ruling Grand National Party.

Park is the daughter of former President Park Chung-hee, who, under iron-fisted rule for 19 years until 1979, is credited with leading war-ravaged South Korea to an economic miracle.

South Korea announced at the recently concluded annual ministerial meeting on the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change in Poland that it will present an interim roadmap for voluntary reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by the end of next year, although it is not obliged to cut gas emissions as are advanced economies.

Other developing nations are expected to follow suit with voluntary reduction in emissions of greenhouse gases in the coming years.

The Kyoto Protocol, which took effect in 2005, calls for advanced economies to reduce by 2012 gas emissions by about 5 percent from the 1990 level.

South Korea recorded the biggest increase rate in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions between 1990 and 2004.

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said in August that his government will invest heavily in the development of environment-friendly technology for the coming years to help boost economic development with less consumption of greenhouse gas-emitting energy.