[The Hwankyung Ilbo] EunJoo Lee guest reporter = Thousands attended Climate Strike in Seoul calling for stronger actions, before the UN Climate Action Summit 2019
Local strikers demanding stronger mitigation action plans, climate justice, and establishment of an integrated national climate crisis response organization
|A die-in performance was held to emphasize the threat of human extinction due to climate crisis.
<Photography= Eunjoo Lee guest reporter>
Youth-Led Global Climate Strike
Estimated five thousand people including students, children, farmers, union members, teachers, and scientists gathered in Daehak-ro, Seoul to join the ‘0921 Climate Strike Seoul’ on Saturday, 21 September. This strike was held as the part of the Global Climate Strike, calling for stronger climate actions to the leaders.
Students, children, and young people were in the front line leading the strike.
HyunTae Kim, a member of the Korean Youth Climate Change Network BigWave said, “Climate change is a serious problem for the future generations, and I came here today out of desperation.” Another young environmentalist, Ji-un Lee, addressed that “While scientists say it is late to tackle climate change, politicians say it is too early to act. The UN Climate Action Summit will be a great opportunity for the leaders to show their commitments in Climate Action. We are hoping for a change.”
“The reason why we are on the street as high school students is because this is the only time we can act,” said Dohyun Kim, a high school student. “Having been through rapid growth, South Korea emitted a lot of CO2 in the past. People in the Pacific Islands are now suffering because of this. I feel frustrated because all my individual efforts in reducing energy and plastics use seem powerless in front of all the coal power plants in my country. There should be a change in the current system, and it should happen now”, she added.
Magklin Rincones Herrera, a Colombian student living in Thailand joined the strike while travelling in Seoul. She said, “I am happy to participate in the Global Climate Strike in Seoul. People with different backgrounds came together today and we are learning from each other."
|Young people marching on the climate strike in Seoul.<Photography= Dongjae Oh guest reporter>|
Farmers and teachers, among other unions and NGO groups, were also there to support.
A farmer Baek-Yeon Kim said “We farmers are suffering directly from extreme weather events caused by climate change. The impact of climate change is everywhere in our country regardless of what crops we choose to grow. We should seek ways to minimize CO2 in our farming and foster local food consumption.”
A high school science teacher Moon-Jeong Han addressed that “As a science teacher, I have been teaching about global warming. Climate change affects every aspect of our lives. Human civilization could thrive due to the stability of the climate. We are using and wasting too much as if we are living in a growing planet, yet our planet does not expand in its size. The world we have right now is made of our choices in the past. The world we will have in the future will be made of the choices we make right now. This is the time to make the right choices.”
|At the beginning of 0921 Climate Strike Seoul. <Photography=Eunjoo lee guest reporter>|
Demanding Action Plans to Achieve Zero Carbon Emission by 2050
Before the marching began, a joint statement was read out loud by the representatives of the local strike organizers. Emphasizing the urgency of the situation, the demands of the coalition of Korea to the government include:
- Admitting climate crisis and strengthening actions plans;
- Declaring ‘climate emergency’;
- Re-establishing mitigation action plans to aim at zero carbon emission by 2050. To eliminate coal-burning powerplants;
- Preparing rules and regulations to mitigate and adapt to climate change with ensuring climate justice;
- Establishing a national organization with the authority to change legal systems and climate action plans to respond to the climate crisis.
Soon after the joint statement, the marching began. Calling for stronger action plans to the leaders, the participants shouted phrases such as “stop climate crisis”, “No more Green House Gases”, and “No more coal generation.” After marching 3km from Daehak-ro to Boshin-gak, Jong-ro gu, the event ended with a ‘die-in performance’. This performance, according to the local strike organizers, represents the threat of extinction of humanity due to climate crisis.
‘Will the Leaders Hear the Voices of Global Citizens?’
Globally, estimation is that one to four million people attended the Climate Strike to call for stronger climate actions, before the UN summit on Climate Action 2019 which will be convened on 23 September. Last August, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres invited leaders in governments, the private sector, civil society, and international organizations to New York, calling on ‘concrete, realistic plans to enhance their nationally determined contributions by 2020, in line with reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 45 per cent over the next decade, and to net zero emissions by 2050.’ The focus will be on six action portfolios which include climate finance and carbon pricing, energy transition, industry transition, nature-based transition, cities and local action, and resilience.
South Korea’s President Moon Jae In will also participate in this UN Climate Action Summit, where he will announce South Korea’s plan for opening the second Partnering for Green Growth and the Global Goals (P4G) Summit, according to the Office of President Moon. P4G is a network among nine countries, which aims to enhance public-private partnerships in achieving the SDGs and the Paris Climate Agreement. A student from Yonsei University who participated in the Climate Strike Seoul mentioned that “there seems to be a discrepancy between the demands of the citizens and the announcement from the President’s Office. I wish this strike would make a difference in the leaders' commitments in the UN Climate Action Summit.”
|Earth-shaped balloon going through black CO2 layers during the march. <Photography=Eunjoo Lee guest reporter>|
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