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Keung Ryong Chang

Keung Ryong Chang

Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Canada

Climate change is a global problem requiring international solutions. Every country has unique needs and strengths in this arena, and a clean hydrogen partnership between Canada and Korea could be a perfect union.

The climate and energy crisis knows no borders. Just as Canada watches its glaciers recede and its crops suffer, Korea faces accelerated warming in its urban centres and growing threats from extreme coastal weather events. While Torontonians struggle with the rising cost of electricity and gas, residents of Seoul share similar anxieties related to the skyrocketing price of oil and its economic impact. We’re all, quite simply, in this together.

In countries around the world, ambitious decarbonization targets are being set. Canada and Korea have both pledged a commitment to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, with aggressive intermediary goals along the way. But it’s not enough that we’re on the same page, we must also be actively working in harmony if we’re to succeed.

I’m certain that our two countries, as like-minded partners, will deepen and bolster mutual cooperation in responding to climate change.

A storied legacy as allies and partners

Canada and Korea have a long history of deep cooperation and shared values. As historic allies, major trade partners, and collaborators on a dozen ongoing multi-lateral partnerships, our two countries have a strong foundation from which to build. Hundreds of thousands of Canadians identify as Korean, and tens of thousands of Canadians reside full-time in Korea. We live among each other as brothers and sisters. It’s time for us to show the world what true fraternity in the face of climate adversity looks like.

“Climate change is a rising global threat that cannot be tackled by any single country. Indeed, we’re one team, and that’s why we need a coordinated approach on this issue,” says Keung Ryong Chang, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea (ROK) to Canada. “The ROK-Canada strategic partnership has been remarkable, especially during the pandemic. This strategic partnership has enabled both countries to work more closely together on a wide range of global issues, such as public health and climate change.”

Harnessing the most abundant element in the universe

In the face of rising global temperatures and soaring fuel prices, it’s imperative that each nation on Earth find every possible avenue for improvement. There are many great renewable technologies available to us, and we’ll need all of them. Solar, wind, and modern geothermal will all play an essential role, but there’s one technology in particular that provides a unique opportunity for Canada, especially in collaboration with partners like Korea.

“Though it’s at an early stage of development, hydrogen has the potential to replace fossil fuels,” says Ambassador Chang. “Canada is one of the world’s major hydrogen producers, and a global leader in hydrogen technology. On the other hand, Korea has great expertise in regards to end-user products, like mobility and power generation. Specializing in these different areas, Canada and Korea are optimal partners that can complement each other perfectly.”

A green revolution that leaves us richer

The energy sector has long been a foundational pillar of Canada’s economy and, though Canadians are green at heart, many are rightfully worried about the social and economic impacts of a green energy transition here at home. The emerging hydrogen industry may just hold the key to a remarkably graceful solution. Canada’s new Hydrogen Strategy, unveiled last year, projects the creation of 350,000 new green jobs in a $50 billion clean fuel sector founded on existing fossil fuel infrastructure and skills.

“I do believe cleantech will reduce carbon and methane emissions; make our societies cleaner and healthier; and create new jobs in the process,” says Ambassador Chang. “But for these technologies to bloom — particularly within such a short period — we need more investment.”

Trade and green investment go hand in hand. We have the potential to produce far more hydrogen under this strategy than we could ever use domestically. With partners like Korea, where hydrogen demand is expected to grow exponentially, this new sector provides a natural path to retaining Canada’s rightful spot as a major global energy exporter.

It’s a bold and audacious vision, but that’s exactly what we need. The need for worldwide climate action is profound and immediate. “Our future is growing more precarious; that’s why we must act now, and together,” says Ambassador Chang. “I’m certain that our two countries, as like-minded partners, will deepen and bolster mutual cooperation in responding to climate change.”

At this critical juncture, the prospect of a successful hydrogen compact with one of our largest and most trusted trade partners is a major boon for the Canadian economy and the environment. The hour is upon us to seize every green opportunity available and this is a grand one.

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