South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol duing the opening of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week 2023. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: The UAE’s bold stance towards carbon neutrality in preparation for the post-oil era is commendable, and is attracting plenty of attention from not only governments but startups as well, South Korea’s President Yoon Suk-yeol said in his opening remarks at the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week 2023 on Monday.

Here’s the complete text of his keynote speech at the opening ceremony in Abu Dhabi:

The President, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan,

His Excellency Ilham Aliyev, President of Azerbaijan,

and distinguished guests,

I extend my sincere congratulations to you on the opening of ‘Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week 2023’.

Established in honor of the vision of the UAE’s first President Sheikh Zayed in 2008, ‘Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week’ has become a valuable venue where the international community musters wisdom to build a sustainable future for humanity.

The bold steps taken by the UAE toward carbon neutrality in preparation for the post-oil era is garnering the entire world’s attention.

The UAE was the first country in the Middle East to declare a carbon neutrality goal in 2021, and Abu Dhabi has been building ‘Masdar’, the world’s first zero-carbon city.

Thus, it is no longer a surprise that Abu Dhabi is now a rising hub for startups that envision a decarbonised economy.

Korea has also declared its ‘2050 carbon neutrality goal’. To achieve this goal, we are working to rapidly restore the nuclear power system, which supplies carbon-free electricity, and boost the supply of clean energy, such as renewable energy and hydrogen energy.

We are sparing no support in empowering businesses in Korea to pioneer new business areas related to carbon neutrality through technological innovations. Also, cities in Korea aim to transform into smart cities by converging low-carbon energy and mobility technologies.

This year, in particular, Korea plans to establish ‘the National Master Plan for Carbon Neutrality and Green Growth’, which will include specific ways to mitigate greenhouse gas by sector and year. Guided by the Master Plan, Korea will deliver on our pledge to achieve carbon neutrality in a more systematic manner.

If the special strategic partnership between Korea and the UAE further extends to cooperation in achieving carbon neutrality, our two countries will be able to enhance our leadership in the international community and create more opportunities for economic cooperation.

If our two countries join efforts in clean energy development ranging from renewable energy, hydrogen, to carbon capture, utilisation, and storage (CCUS), in addition to our existing cooperation area of nuclear power, which is symbolic of our friendship, it will not only enhance our two countries’ energy security but also contribute to improving the global energy market’s stability.

Smart city construction is another area where synergy from our bilateral cooperation is expected.

By tapping into Korea’s world-class IT and infrastructure technologies and the UAE’s experience of building and operating ‘Masdar’, our two countries can bring a sustainable future to many cities around the world.

Distinguished guests,

This year’s ‘Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week’ holds significant meaning, as it is an event bridging the UNFCCC COP27 held last year and this year’s COP28 in the UAE.

During this year’s COP, the inaugural Global Stocktake, a process to take stock of the implementation of the Paris Agreement, will conclude. In other words, COP28 will be a conference where the parties should devise specific ways to mobilise the finance for the climate change-driven loss and damage borne by developing countries.

As a responsible member of the international community and a longtime friend of the UAE, Korea is committed to providing all our support for the successful hosting of COP28.

By hosting the Korea Global Adaptation Week in August this year, Korea will make further progress in the discussion on how the world should adapt to the impacts of climate change.

In addition, by scaling up our green ODA, we will make tangible contributions to narrowing the gaps between the developed and developing countries in responding to climate change.

Carbon neutrality has become a common slogan for the entire world, and it cannot be achieved by a single country’s effort alone.

I am confident that if we join our hands and work together, we can be a step closer to a sustainable future based on carbon neutrality.

I look forward to Korea and the UAE’s strengthening solidarity and cooperation to achieve our shared goal of reaching carbon neutrality.

Thank you.