As an ethologist and conservationist, Dr Jane Goodall's famous words resonate: "You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make."
No one would deny that climate change is having a deep impact on our daily lives. Indeed, we are now facing a "new normal". Constant news of climate abnormalities, from the worst droughts in centuries to record-breaking heatwaves, are phenomena encountered all around the globe. And to tackle this unprecedented climate crisis, it is imperative that we take bold action to reduce the climate impact and accelerate our transition to a carbon-neutral economy.
It is heartening to note that even against a backdrop of strategic competition the United States and China are embracing a similar approach when it comes to mitigating climate change. China -- the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases -- has pledged to achieve carbon neutrality before 2060, while, following President Joe Biden's inauguration, the US, the second-largest emitter, has declared its return to the Paris Agreement, emphasising the country's commitment to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
The international community's scale and speed of action in responding to the climate crisis have increased tremendously throughout the years. In the first half of this year alone, two multilateral summits addressing climate issues were held -- in the Netherlands and the US respectively -- and a further summit, the "2021 P4G Seoul Summit", is to be hosted by the Republic of Korea this month.
The P4G -- Partnering for Green Growth and the Global Goals 2030 -- Initiative was launched in 2018, as a global forum promoting public-private partnerships for the realisation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement. Twelve partner countries including South Korea, Denmark, Indonesia, Mexico and South Africa, are participating in the initiative in tandem with business and civil society as they seek together to deliver inclusive, sustainable solutions for developing countries in five sectors spanning food and agriculture; water; energy; cities and the circular economy. P4G is distinct from other sustainability initiatives, as it is driven by multi-stakeholder partnerships between various stakeholders in delivering transformative change to address the world's challenges, and fosters business models through impact investment. The initiative has funded more than 50 innovative partnerships across the globe.
The 2021 P4G Seoul Summit to be held on May 30–31 in Seoul comes at a critical juncture when there is a pressing call for a greener and more resilient recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. As we embark on the implementation of the Paris Agreement this year, the summit will advance an ambitious climate agenda and present concrete measures to achieve inclusive green recovery and carbon neutrality. More than 30 heads of state, including Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and leaders from international organisations will attend the summit and share their invaluable insights to address climate change.
Thailand's participation in the P4G Seoul Summit is particularly meaningful as the two countries embrace the common shared goal of pursuing green growth for sustainable development. Thailand has long promoted balanced, sustainable and environment-friendly development policies based on the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy and the Bio-Circular-Green (BCG) economy model.
Meanwhile, South Korea launched the "Green New Deal" plan in 2020 for its transition to a low-emission and climate-neutral economy in the post-Covid-19 era. South Korea's Green New Deal focuses on a green transition in infrastructure and ecosystem restoration; low-carbon energy supply and green mobility; and R&D and investment for green innovation. Through a series of domestic programmes, South Korea aims to achieve a reduction of 12.3 million tonnes of carbon emissions by 2025. Furthermore, to galvanise renewable energy sources globally, President Moon Jae-in has also announced that South Korea will end public financing for overseas coal-fired power plants.
There are common threads between the BCG economy model and the Green New Deal strategy. They both centre around the idea that innovation and bold investment are vital in driving sustainable growth. There is tremendous potential for cooperation between South Korea and Thailand in a myriad of spheres such as water and waste management, renewable energy, and green mobility. As we harness our wisdom gained from our policy experiences, collaborative efforts will take us closer to the coming to fruition of Korea's vision as "Asia's green powerhouse" and Thailand's vision as the "bio-hub of Asean".
The climate crisis that we face today cannot be solved solely by the government. This is why P4G calls upon all businesses, citizens and civil societies to all play their part in making climate action happen. Businesses can reduce waste and CO2 emissions through innovative technologies and green investment. Citizens can make a huge difference through small changes by reducing single-use plastic bags and saving electricity. When governments, businesses and the people join hands and put a sense of environmental citizenship into practice, we will be able to curb climate change, safeguarding our precious planet.
HE Mr Lee Wook-heon, is Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to the Kingdom of Thailand.