Rae Kwon Chung: carbon neutrality in no way contradicts economic growth
The world has yet to achieve a consensus around how to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, Rae Kwon Chung, Nobel Prize laureate and Chairman of the Global Energy International Award Committee, said in a lecture held on 9th October at the Lomonosov Moscow State University as part of the Russian Science Festival.

The photo is sourced from  www.festivalnauki.ru

“The idea of achieving zero emissions has come through a 30-year journey,” Chung said in summing up the different stages of the campaign.

  • In 1992, in Rio de Janeiro, the U.N. Conference on Environment and Development took place, with the final declaration stating: “In order to achieve sustainable development, environmental protection shall constitute an integral part of the development process and cannot be considered in isolation from it.”
  • In 2000, U.N. member-countries agreed to assume responsibility for the Millennium Development Goals, among them upholding environmental sustainability by including the principles of sustainable development in government programmes.
  • In 2005, as part of the fifth conference on environment and development in Seoul, representatives of 52 countries in the Asia-Pacific region adopted a five-year plan of regional development, linking the tasks of economic growth to the aims of nature conservation.
  • In 2009, the U.N. Global Green New Deal called for decarbonisation of the world economy and a reduction of the environmental footprint. That same year, at a summit in Pittsburgh, G20 nations agreed to move towards a more environmental and sustainable form of growth.
  • In 2015, U.N. member-states adopted 17 goals of sustainable development for the period up to 2030 – these contained 169 tasks.
  • In 2019, the European Union announced a European Green Deal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.
  • Lastly, in 2020-2021, the leaders of the United States, Japan and South Korea announced they intended to achieve carbon neutrality by the same deadline. China said it would accomplish the task by 2060.

       Despite the efforts undertaken, the growth of CO2 concentration in the atmosphere went on unchecked. In 2021, for the first time in the history of all recorded observations, this concentration for the first time reached the level of 421.2 parts per million (ppm).

        “And the world has been jolted by climate anomalies,” Chung said, providing as examples freezing temperatures in France in April 2021 and forest fires in Australia and in Siberia in Russia. Chung sees the solution in the creation of a new social discipline, a new climate economy that will help prove in practice that economic growth and carbon neutrality form a “win-win” situation and not a “zero sum game”.


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October 2021