Al Gore Calls on S. Korea to Bump up Solar and Wind in Energy Mix

Al Gore told the Hankyoreh on Thursday he’s confident that expanding renewable energy is where countries are headed, no matter which government may be currently in power.
The 75-year-old climate crusader and former US vice president acknowledged in a Zoom interview with the Hankyoreh that there may be bumps in the road when a new administration takes power through elections in South Korea or the US.
Gore had been asked to comment on the fact that nuclear power’s share of the Korean energy mix will rise from 23.9% to 32.4% and renewable energy’s share will fall from 30.2% to 21.6% by 2030, in line with Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol’s pledge to roll back his predecessor’s nuclear phase-out. While energy policy varies depending on who’s in office, in other words, all governments will have to make the shift to renewable energy if they want to reach carbon neutrality and overcome the climate crisis.
It was Gore, as a US House representative, who organized the first congressional hearing about climate change. In 2006, he wrote “An Inconvenient Truth: The Crisis of Global Warming,” bringing the climate crisis into the spotlight. The next year, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on responding to climate change.
The former vice president continues that work with the Climate Reality Project, a nonprofit he established to pursue advocacy and education related to climate change.
Gore will be visiting Korea on Aug. 19-20 for Seoul Climate Reality Leadership Training, a free program that’s available to young people who are interested in the climate crisis.
In the interview, Gore emphasized that the transition to renewable energy has gained momentum around the world. The US passed its biggest ever climate change bill (the Inflation Reduction Act) 10 months ago, Australia passed the Climate Change Act under a new government that’s eager to tackle climate change, and Brazilian voters elected Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to the presidency, where he has promised to take action on climate change. Meanwhile, the EU has accelerated its shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy, standing up to Russia’s energy blackmail, Gore added.
Gore emphasized that among the various kinds of renewable energy, solar power and wind power will become even more important. “Solar and wind will gradually become more attractive because of falling costs,” he said.
The International Energy Agency recently projected that offshore wind and solar (US$65 per megawatt hour) and onshore wind (US$85/MWh) would become the cheapest sources of energy in Europe by 2040, compared to nuclear (US$110/MWh), gas (US$115/MWh), and coal (US$145/MWh).
Gore explained that while he isn’t opposed to nuclear power, which doesn’t produce carbon emissions, many countries, including the US, are ambivalent about nuclear energy because of its high cost. In connection with that, he called on Korea to boost solar and wind generation, which only make up 5.4% of the country’s energy mix — less than half the global average of 12%.
In the interview, Gore was also asked about the decision by the National Human Rights Commission of Korea to ask the Korean Constitutional Court to review the constitutionality of Korea’s Framework Act on Carbon Neutrality and Green Growth.
“While I can’t express a personal opinion about the lawsuit, I would like to express my respect for the National Human Rights Commission for its position,” he said. “I think it was a wise decision.”
Gore also noted that lobbyists for the fossil fuel industry have been attending the UN climate meeting over the past few years and their political sway appears to be growing, adding that it’s unfortunate that the head of an oil company will be chairing this year’s conference.
Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), which is owned by the United Arab Emirates, has been named chair of the 2023 UN Climate Change Conference, also known as COP28, which will be held in Dubai in November.
Gore noted a potential conflict of interest since Al Jaber is the head of a state-run oil company. “I think he ought to step down either as chair of COP28 or as CEO of ADNOC,” he said.
“The CEO’s company has announced plans to crank up crude oil production by 50% over the next seven years. It seems ridiculous for the CEO to boost emissions at his own company by 50% while calling on the world to cut emissions by 50% [as COP28 chairman],” Gore said.
To keep global temperatures from rising by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2050, as set forth in the Paris Agreement, the world must reduce greenhouse emissions to 43% of 2019 levels by 2030 and to 60% of those levels by 2035.

About Parvin Faghfouri Azar

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