Why Is North Korea So Eager To Join The Effort Against Climate Change?

Whether it's testing nuclear weapons or threatening its neighbors, North Korea isn't known for working and playing well with the global community. Yet, the Hermit Kingdom has a sterling record of compliance as a party to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. What's going on here, Dear Leader?

According to Benjamin Habib, a specialist in East Asian politics at La Trobe University, Melbourne, there is compelling evidence that the North Korean government's we-are-the-world attitude is motivated by domestic power games.

The country's environmental degradation, vulnerable agricultural system and energy shortages pose an existential threat to the regime, argues Habib:

Climate change impacts—declining availability of food, water and energy, sea level rise, migration, and extreme weather events—pile more stress onto countries already at risk from internal instability and economic weakness…. So North Korea is using the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as a vehicle for projects….The capacity-building assistance made available via the UNFCCC—and related programs boosting planting and harvesting efficiency, building soil fertility and reforestation—helps to increase the productive capacity of the agricultural sector and enhance its resilience against climate change.

North Korea is [also] using the UNFCCC as a vehicle for obtaining foreign assistance to upgrade its energy production and transmission infrastructure.

North Korea's energy security problem is well documented, revolving around four distinct challenges: supply, generation, power transmission, and secondary usage. Of these four challenges, electricity generation and transmission are the two that can be addressed through the UNFCCC.

For example, [one] sponsored project is installing small-scale wind energy systems at sites across North and South Pyongan Provinces, helping to alleviate energy shortages affecting these areas by decoupling them from reliance on the coal-generated electricity grid.

Technology transfers for such projects do not violate the import restrictions of dual-use technologies listed under the UN Security Council sanctions regime against the DPRK. The income potential derives from the carbon credits generated by North Korea's renewable projects, which can be traded on international carbon markets.

Via The Conversation