A joint Russia–Korea workshop ‘Legal and Economic Aspects of Energy Transition’ has taken place as part of the visit of Park Chong Soo, Chairman of the South Korea's Presidential Committee on Northern Economic Cooperation, to St Petersburg University. Further development of relations between the University and Korean public and private business partners was discussed.

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Lawyers and economists specialising in the field of energy took part in the workshop on the first day of the visit by the Korean delegation.  In his welcoming remarks, Sergei Belov, Dean of the Faculty of Law at St Petersburg University, noted that joint cooperation among specialists from different fields is required to solve problems in the sphere of power energy. He also noted that the University has the Centre for Energy Law  directed by Kristina Semenovich, who was one of the workshop speakers.

Interdisciplinary approach is one of the organising principles for research and educational activity at the University.  That is why together with our colleagues in the sphere of economics we are working on a number of research directions including in the sphere of energy.
Sergei Belov, Dean of the Faculty of Law at St Petersburg University

In his welcoming address, Park Chong Soo noted that he was happy to find himself within the walls of the University again. Having spent eight years in Russia, he completed a master's programme and a doctoral programme at St Petersburg University and received the degree of the Candidate of Sciences.  He expressed special gratitude to Rector Nikolay Kropachev and Director of the Centre for Energy Law Kristina Semenovich for support in preparing the workshop.

Park Chong Soo reminded that in 2017, Moon Jae-in, President of the Republic of Korea, declared the New Northern Economic Policy at the Eastern Economic Forum. To implement it, South Korea's Presidential Committee on Northern Economic Cooperation was established. One of the Committee tasks is the Nine-Bridge Strategy – a plan on developing cooperation between our countries that also includes the issues of energy.

During the Cold War, Korea received energy resources from the countries of Asia and the Middle East. After establishing diplomatic relations with the Russian Federation in 1990, the share of import from Russia is constantly growing.  High quality and geographical proximity of Russian resources reduce transportation costs. However, the share of import from Russia still remains quite low.
Park Chong Soo, Chairman of the South Korea's Presidential Committee on Northern Economic Cooperation, a graduate of St Petersburg University

Consul General of the Republic of Korea in St Petersburg Byun Chul Hwan also said welcoming words.

The first part of the workshop was devoted to the economic aspects of energy transition.  It was moderated by Weon-yong Sung, Professor at Incheon National University. Lee Sung Kyu, Leading Research Associate at Korea Energy Economics Institute, spoke about hydrogen industry and renewable energy in the Republic of Korea as well as possibilities for international cooperation.  He mentioned legal measures taken in South Korea on reducing energy sources with high carbon footprint and transitioning to hydrogen energy.

The second report on the experience of developed countries in Northern Europe was made by Nikita Lomagin, Professor in the Department of World Economy at St Petersburg University. For several years, Denmark and Sweden have taken leading positions in the ranking of the International Economic Forum demonstrating the efficiency of energy transition. Thus, their experience can be considered extremely successful.  Nikita Lomagin emphasised that currently the attitude to climate change is transforming in Russia. For example, the environmental agenda was reflected in the key documents signed by the President:   the Energy Security Doctrine, the Energy Strategy 2035 and the 2050 Strategy of Social and Economic Development with Low Level of Greenhouse Gas Emission.  Today, climate agenda has become a new promising field for international cooperation in Russia, according to Professor Lomagin.

Energy transition is a ‘quiet revolution’ that started in the Scandinavian countries back in the time of energy shocks in the late 1970s. At that time, alternative sources of energy were actively developed in Sweden and Denmark and a national consensus on the need of energy transition was reached.
Nikita Lomagin, Professor in the Department of World Economy at St Petersburg University

‘Energy transition in Scandinavian countries is not an “imposed revolution”, but a process that requires a continuous dialogue between the authorities, business and society. This is a possibility for business development,’ shared Nikita Lomagin, Professor in the Department of World Economy at St Petersburg University.

A balance of renewable and traditional energy sources is characteristic of Sweden that is called an ‘ideal energy transition model’ by Professor Lomagin. ‘At the same time, the key role in the transition process is given to hydraulic power engineering, wind energy and bioenergy prioritising local resources.  Nuclear power plants still play an important part in stabilising energy supply.  They take about one third in the energy balance of Sweden,’ added Professor Lomagin.

Denmark uses energy transition to export its technologies and created working places in the territory of the entire country.  The country is moving forward due to the strategy of trial and error through pilot projects according to Nikita Lomagin.

Nadezhda Pakhomova, Professor in the Department of Economic Theory, noted in the course of the discussion that the Russian Government sees the future in developing cooperation in the field of energy with the regions of Asia. According to Professor Pakhomova, Russia is preparing for a new age: an intensive version of the Carbon Neutrality Strategy was adopted; the Federal Law ‘On reducing greenhouse gases’ was issued in July of 2021; and a new transportation strategy appeared. Nadezhda Pakhomova called the research of alternative energy markets from the viewpoint of hydrogen energy demand and offer to be one of the most promising fields of cooperation.  

The second session titled ‘The legal aspects of energy transition’ was moderated by Sergei Belov. Kristina Semenovich, Director of the Centre for Energy Law, spoke about the legislation for regulating hydrogen energy in Russia.

‘In 2019, the Russian Federation ratified the Paris Climate Accords and fully embarked on the course of building “post-Parisian” world, in which fossil fuels are replaced with other environmentally clean energy resources. Hydrogen is one of such resources,’ said Kristina Semenovich.

As a new field of the fuel and energy sector in Russia, hydrogen energy first appears in Russia’s Energy Strategy 2035. After adopting the strategy, the Government of the Russian Federation approved the list of events on developing hydrogen energy in Russia including the legal regulation in the industry.  The first legal act defining the ‘face’ of the new industry was the Concept for hydrogen energy development approved in August of 2021. It neither determines the legal regime of hydrogen circulation as an object of relations in the field of energy, nor shows the ways to regulate public relations in the hydrogen sphere.

Since the main task posed by the Strategy 2035 to the hydrogen industry is the development of export, specific experts should be provided with the right for export. Hydrogen should also receive a special legal status as an object of foreign trade transactions.  
Kristina Semenovich, Director of the Centre for Energy Law

The newly established industry requires a dedicated regulatory act stating legal foundations for economic relations in the sphere of hydrogen energy. Taking into account the future of hydrogen as an energy resource, Kristina Semenovich proposed that the regulatory basis be developed in a similar way to the gas industry or from scratch with the following transformation of the large-scale legal block on alternative energy.

Seong Wook Heo, Professor at Seoul University, gave a presentation titled ‘Legal regulation of renewable energy in the Republic of Korea’. Professor Lee Jae Woo at Kangnam University acted as a discussant of the session.

The following day, a meeting of the delegation headed by Park Chong Soo with Senior Vice-Rector at St Petersburg University Elena Chernova took place.

Elena Chernova noted that the University has strong relations with the universities in the Republic of Korea.  ‘We are interested in comprehensive expansion of cooperation between the representatives of St Petersburg University and research, educational and other organisations in the Republic of Korea,’ said Elena Chernova. In particular, the University is interested in attracting South Korean partners to the implementation of joint academic programmes and development of joint courses.

It was also proposed that a direct contract should be concluded between St Petersburg University and the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Korea.

Mr Park Chong Soo expressed gratitude for the warm welcome and spoke about the activity of the Committee that plays a coordinating role in interagency interaction in the issues of economic cooperation with Russia and reports directly to President Moon Jae-in. Mr Park Chong Soo shared information about one of the projects – the Forum of interregional cooperation, a representative platform established during the meeting of the leaders of our countries in Moscow.  He mentioned the previous meeting with Governor of St Petersburg Alexander Beglov, when he voiced a proposal to hold the forum in the Northern capital in 2024.  Mr Park Chong Soo proposed that the event should be dedicated to the 300th anniversary of the University and expressed readiness to provide comprehensive support in its organisation. Mr Park Chong Soo also expressed hope for intensification of interaction in the Korea–Russia Dialogue Forum. 

In the end of the event, Valeriia Babushkina, Acting Deputy Rector for International Affairs, made a request to provide support in concluding a direct agreement with the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Korea. She noted that such an agreement exists between the University and the People’s Republic of China. Mr Park Chong Soo promised to consider this issue. In conclusion, Viktoriia Popova, Director of the Korea–Russia Dialogue Forum Directorate, spoke about the main achievements of the Forum in the recent years.

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