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ReWorld Forum hosts large, small firms to discuss energy transformation plans

By Lee Jung-joo

Published : April 29, 2024 - 14:47

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Participants of the ReWorld Forum 2024 pose for a photo at the HW Convention Center on April 24. (SDX Foundation) Participants of the ReWorld Forum 2024 pose for a photo at the HW Convention Center on April 24. (SDX Foundation)

Officials from large and small firms, business experts and government officials gathered at the ReWorld Forum 2024 in Seoul on April 24 to exchange ideas on how South Korea should realize RE100 and work toward decarbonization.

RE100 is the global corporate renewable energy initiative of businesses committed to achieving 100 percent renewable electricity.

According to the SDX Foundation, the non-profit organization responsible for hosting the event, the forum saw around 400 participants.

ReWorld Forum 2024 mainly focused on brainstorming innovative ways for both small and large firms to join the energy transformation, win-win strategies to achieve carbon neutrality and revitalize voluntary carbon markets. Voluntary carbon markets allow corporate carbon emitters to offset their emissions by purchasing carbon credits emitted by projects targeted at removing or reducing greenhouse gas from the atmosphere.

Lee Byung-hwa, the forum’s co-president, said during his opening speech that the ReWorld Forum aims to look at solutions that are “entirely realistic, feasible and aggressive.”

“With such solutions, companies can take their environmental responsibilities and satisfy their financial goals at the same time,” added Lee.

The forum started with a keynote speech made by Yu Yeon-cheol, the secretary-general of the UN Global Compact Korea Association on global trends and Korea’s response to the climate crisis. Yu emphasized the seriousness of the climate crisis and the efforts that must be made by the international community to address it, while also mentioning the US’ withdrawal from the Paris Agreement in 2017 under former President Donald Trump and the importance of COP28 in Dubai.

“Securing competitiveness in low carbon technologies, expanding renewable energy, revitalizing carbon markets, reducing global divides in development, climate and the digital sector and supporting individuals in vulnerable groups and small and medium-sized enterprises are all climate responses that the government must take,” added Yu.

Choi Jung-kiu, managing director and partner at Boston Consulting Group, also talked about how global enterprises such as BMW and Audi introduced new management frameworks to ease communications between companies and their smaller business partners, adding that such examples would “help Korea’s large enterprises and its smaller counterparts brainstorm win-win solutions together.”

“Partnerships among large enterprises and small and medium-sized enterprises are no longer an option but a necessity,” urged Choi.

During the forum’s “Innovation in Energy Transition” session, Kim Sung-woo, head of the Environment and Energy Research Institute under Korean law firm Kim & Chang stated that environmental principles being highlighted through the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism and the Inflation Reduction Act should “not be recognized separately from the country’s commerce but rather in unison.”

Kim urged companies that export to minimize carbon emissions during the product manufacturing process, saying that pandemics like COVID-19 are connected to emissions-caused climate change, which affects how humans interact with other species.

Korea’s limitations in realizing RE100 were discussed during a keynote speech made by Baek Seung-taek, head of the power grid marketing team under LS Electric. Baek stated that raising energy efficiency is key to RE100 by conducting an analysis on energy consumption patterns throughout the company’s supply chain to get a picture of how and where energy is spent and how it can be reduced.

Companies that achieved a lower carbon footprint than other companies were also rewarded at the forum. The companies that were rewarded included Amore Pacific, Vision IT, Chemtopia, CFC Teramate, Easy Networks, SGR Tech and FORCS.

On the future of the ReWorld Forum, Chairman Jhun Ha-jin of SDX Foundation stated that it “plans to discuss business management strategies and directions to overcome the climate crisis and achieve sustainable growth.”

“We hope to provide practical help to companies in the long run,” added Jhun.

Chairman Jhun Ha-jin of SDX Foundation delivers his opening remarks at ReWorld Forum 2024 on April 24. (SDX Foundation) Chairman Jhun Ha-jin of SDX Foundation delivers his opening remarks at ReWorld Forum 2024 on April 24. (SDX Foundation)