Business Leaders and Their Role in Climate Change
How A Large Steel Cooperation is Stepping Up to Tackle the Environmental Crisis
On the 25th of May, Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom South Korea Office and POSCO TJ Park Foundation (포스코청암재단) collaborated on an education project called the “Global Citizen Dialogue - Future by us”. This is part of the second seminar of the ‘Global Citizen Dialogue’ 2022 Online Seminar series. The webinar was joined by 100 students from 15 different countries, all eager to learn more from Jeong-Yub Lee, Head of the POSCO ESG Management Group, about how large cooperation like POSCO is stepping up to tackle their environmental impact. A special thank you to Yong-Geun Kim, Director of CCRI POSTECH Corporate Citizenship Research Institute, who moderated this event.
It is of no surprise that the main culprit of air pollution is the act of burning fossil fuels which releases large quantities of carbon dioxide as well as other particulates into the atmosphere. Particulates can be transported and adversely affect other countries that have no way of reducing pollutants. According to the WHO, 91% of premature deaths occurred in low- and middle-income countries, and the greatest number in the WHO South-East Asia and Western Pacific regions. Thus, international cooperation is crucial, and it is time to hold cooperations accountable to their environmental impact.
POSCO is one of the largest steel producer in the world, and the cooperation has vowed to become ‘Carbon Neutral’ by 2050. This demonstrates POSCO’s determination to play a leading role to act in accordance to the Korean government’s policy of achieving ‘2050 carbon neutrality.’ The multi-million cooperation has already plan for innovative technologies such as the Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage (CCUS) and the hydrogen-based steelmaking which enables low carbon emissions. In addition to this, POSCO has been making its climate-related data available to the public.
In January 2020, POSCO became the first Korean company to establish an organization dedicated to Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) activities. This was set up directly under the CEO and is responsible for strengthening business competitiveness through ESG risk analysis and strategy planning. This is same organization that Jeong-Yub Lee is leading.
As part of this strategy, POSCO has decided to transform its current operations into eco-friendly ones and not to pursue new projects that utilize coal. In addition, the cooperation is also introducing small changes for their employees which includes; promoting the use of reusable tumblers, and replacing all of the vehicles used within POSCO with eco-friendly automotive. POSCO also plans to open a contest for an idea that can have a greater social impact on CO2 reduction activities through solidarity and collaboration.
It is time to make climate change a critical agenda for industries and business leaders. Data should be open for the public, and we should increase economic pressure by investing in large cooperations which incorporate ESG activities. In the act of climate change, we are all stakeholders of our future.
*Sky Chatuchinda is the regional communication officer for the office of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom in Bangkok, Thailand.