Qatar center financierTwo countries, Qatar and South Korea, are currently bidding to host the 2012 COP 18

President Lee Myung-bak announced South Korea’s bid to host the 2012 U.N. climate talks in an address Thursday (local time) to world leaders who gathered in Copenhagen, Denmark.

“Korea is ready to contribute to opening up the post-2012 regime by hosting the climate talks in 2012,” Lee said.

He pledged to establish a Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) during the first half of next year to help the world share experiences and crucial policies on creating a greener future.

“We will gather scholars, scientists and civil society leaders from around the world to come up with workable solutions to our problems,” Lee said. “In the spirit of global partnership, the institute can act as a global think tank and as a bridge between advanced and developing countries.”

Lee was among the leaders from more than 100 countries, including the United States and China, who arrived in the Danish capital to help reach a global accord on greenhouse gas reduction to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

Korea’s bid for the 2012 summit is meaningful in that it has set an example for developing nations with its “low carbon, green growth” programs, policymakers here said.

Seoul announced a bold plan last month to cut carbon emissions by 30 percent from levels predicted for 2020, becoming the first emerging economy to set up a reduction goal.

“We are investing 2 percent of our GDP annually into the R&D of new green technologies and green infrastructure,” Lee said in the address.

“We will do our best to reduce carbon emissions but also seek new engines of growth that will ensure sustainable development, more jobs and a greener future. And I hope to share this with all of you.”

Korea is expected to compete with Qatar to host the 2012 talks.

Five continents take turns holding the rotating talks and 2012 is Asia’s turn to host the summit. If there is no settlement between bidders, the winner will be selected at the next conference, which will be held in Mexico.

The GGGI represents Korea’s vision of becoming a global leader in green growth.

A number of renowned experts on climate change, including Nicholas Stern, a professor of the London School of Economics, and Thomas Heller, a professor of Stanford University, have already showed keen interest in participating in the project, South Korean officials said.

“After opening the GGGI headquarters in Korea next year, we plan to set up five affiliate institutes in developing countries around the world by 2012. It will become a global center for research on global warming,” said Kim Sang-hyup, presidential secretary for the national future and vision..