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Jiwon Song is an NK News contributor based in Seoul and studied International Relations at Waseda University. Follower her @jiwon_song121
North Korea has signaled a commitment to participating in the global campaign against climate change following Kim Jong Un’s “declaration of war” against deforestation.
Speaking at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris on Monday, Foreign Minister Ri Su Yong said North Korea would actively contribute to protecting the global environment.
Ri unveiled a plan claiming North Korea “aims to reduce CO2 emission by 37.4 percent by 2020 and engage in the global environmental effort as one of the parties to the UN Climate Change Convention and the Kyoto Protocol.”
The effort comes as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has declared “war” on deforestation. Kim has initiated tree-planting campaigns to take place over next decade, and said all mountains will be turned into “golden (and) thickly wooded with trees.”
“North Korea wants to improve its image,” Chang Yong-seok, a senior researcher at Institute for Peace and Unification Studies at Seoul National University told NK News.
“It is basically a strategy to expand international cooperation. The Kim Jong Un regime has stayed stuck to its peace line and ‘people first’ policy rather than talking about satellites, autonomy and dignity, like in the past.”
Chang said Ri’s speech could also contain a political message, telling onlookers that North Korea is well-positioned to be active on climate change.
“North Korea nowadays is not satisfied with its image of receiving international aid all the time,” added Chang.
“More than that, they want to prove to the world that they are rather open now. They want to deliver a message that they are ready to make a contribution to international agenda like climate change.”
Recent reports from Pyongyang, North Korean media and anecdotal evidence indicate that North Korea is embracing renewable technologies.
A relatively large percentage of their generated electricity comes from hydro power, though the capacity drops off in winter, as rivers and dams freeze over.