The Elders- GGGI Hold High-level Climate Panel on Transitioning Asia to Net Zero

Seoul, Republic of Korea, 29 May 2023 – Transitioning Asia to net-zero is critical for the world to meet the commitments made in the Paris Climate Change Agreement to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. The world must reach net-zero emissions by 2050, with shorter-term emissions reductions of more than 45% by 2030.

As the largest and fastest-growing continent, Asia accounts for more than half of the world’s emissions. Among the region’s major emitters, several countries – including the Republic of Korea, Japan, and Australia – are already aiming to reach emissions neutrality by 2050, while others still lag far behind. Against this backdrop The Elders and GGGI held a high-level Climate Panel to explore how powering past coal and upholding a people-centered just transition in Asia can, and must, be realized.

In his opening remark H.E. Ban Ki-moon, President of the Assembly and Chair of the Council of GGGI, Deputy Chair of The Elders and the 8th Secretary General of the United Nations, noted the size and importance of Asia on the entire world and called for “concrete actions from governments to decisively respond to the Global Stocktake and deliver on commitments to accelerate the green transition”.

Representing The Elders, Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, Norway’s first women Prime Minister, former Director-General of WHO, and UN Special Envoy on Climate Change also urged action. “We have a planetary emergency, and the transition to net zero is too slow…. To keep to a 1.5c temperature rise the world needs to triple renewable investments. Much of this needs to happen in Asia.”

H.E. Hyoeun Jenny Kim, Deputy Minister, and Ambassador for Climate Change of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea noted Korea’s commitments to date. “Korea is committed to playing a leading role for net-zero transition in the Asia-Pacific region, as a global pivotal state. It will strengthen regional cooperation for green technology development and innovation and other support to developing countries, including increasing its green ODA”. “There are many challenges for middle income and developing countries like the Philippines in terms of the transition to net-zero,” H. E. Theresa Dizon-De Vega, Ambassador of the Philippines to the Republic said.

Dr. Achala Abeysinghe, Director and Head of Programs for Asia of GGGI highlighted how the transition should be a collective endeavor, driven by the strong principle that green growth is not just about reducing emissions, but about improving the quality of life for all, leaving no one behind. “Transitioning to net zero in Asia must be about people because at the heart of sustainability are the lives, well-being, and aspirations of individuals and communities,” she said.

The Elders
are independent global leaders working for peace, justice, human rights and a sustainable planet. The group was founded by Nelson Mandela in 2007. The Elders are Ban Ki-moon (Deputy Chair), Gro Harlem Brundtland, Elbegdorj Tsakhia, Zeid Raad Al Hussein, Hina Jilani, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Ricardo Lagos, Graça Machel (Deputy Chair), Juan Manuel Santos, Mary Robinson (Chair) and Ernesto Zedillo. Martti Ahtisaari, Lakhdar Brahimi, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, and Jimmy Carter are Elders Emeritus.