We Want to Live – In face of climate crisis extinction, we demand action, not words

Korea Climate Crisis Emergency Action

Declaration of Climate Action

We Want to Live – In face of climate crisis extinction, we demand action, not words

In September 2019, millions of people from all corners of the world participated in the global climate strike. In South Korea, civil society groups from all areas of Korean society – environment, labor, farming, vegetarianism/veganism, youths, religion, etcetera – joined forces to launch the Climate Crisis Emergency Action. On September 21st, people filled the streets demanding the government to “tell the truth of climate crisis and act immediately.” We called for the declaration of climate emergency, a zero-emission plan, climate justice, and an independent government body to address climate issues. In the past year, more and more citizens became aware of the truth and joined our cause.

2020 started out with a devastating wildfire in Australia and now the entire world is living through an unprecedented pandemic that has uprooted our daily lives. Amidst the pandemic this last summer, Korea has experienced devastating heatwaves, typhoons, and the longest monsoon period on record that brought heavy rainfalls and landslides. The majority of citizens are now starting to realize that the climate crisis will bring forth much more severe and prolonged disasters.

And September has come again. In the past year, the 21st National Assembly has come into session in which four climate crisis resolutions have been submitted so far. Municipalities from all across the country joined the declaration of climate crisis. Last July, President Moon took the helms and announced the Korean Green New Deal. Civil servants have started to mention “carbon net-zero.” What we are seeing is ostensibly different from a year ago. But is change really happening? We must be more vigilant when it seems as if something is happening. For action, not words, is what is important.

Resolutions calling for the declaration of climate crisis are being submitted from the left and the right in the National Assembly yet most of them do not even mention strengthening the 2030 greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction target. The net-zero target for the 2050 LEDS, to be submitted to the UN by the end of the year, remains murky. The Ministry of Industry and other government bodies have continuously demonstrated idleness and irresponsibility amid the climate crisis. The Korean Green New Deal, void of concrete goals to overcome the climate crisis, is instead giving front row seats to major corporations while leaving ordinary citizens and workers behind. Absolutely no consideration is given to the imminent food and agricultural crises. Rather than seeking transition from a fossil-fuel economy to a carbon-free society, the Korean Green New Deal is no more than a list of “environmentally-friendly” business plans. Coal plants continue to operate and investments in overseas coal projects show no signs of decline. While the government celebrated the “Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies” that President Moon had proposed to the UN, we continue to experience the scorching of the “Red Earth.”

No more of the rhetoric of crisis declaration or Green New Deal. We desperately need action that can accomplish real changes, not the regaling of words. If we do not act now, there is no escape from a colossal disaster that will dawn upon us. If we continue to ignore the warning messages of the climate crisis, our cry for life will scatter without a trace. Searing heatwaves will burn down our present, typhoons will wipe out our future, and heavy rainfalls will swallow human life. We demand once again to those who are responsible for the climate crisis: Face the truth of the climate crisis—and act!

Our Demands

  1. We demand the National Assembly to declare climate emergency. The declaration must include substantive plans for future course of actions and not just words on paper. We demand that it includes plans to boldly decrease GHG within 10 years, by 2030. We demand that the government set up the necessary legal and institutional foundations to accelerate change toward climate justice.
  2. We demand all government bodies, including the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, the Ministry of Strategy and Finance, and the Ministry of Environment to formulate a bold zero-emission plan to be submitted to the UN. The setting of the 2030 and 2050 targets should be consistent with the IPCC 1.5°C target and reaching the goal before 2050 should not be seen as an economic issue, but a moral one. We also demand that measures be made to ensure just transition that guarantees workers, farmers, and local residents to actively participate in decision making so they can be the master of their own lives.
  3. We demand the government to set up an audacious roadmap for a coal-free transition.
    KEPCO, POSCO, and the Korea Developmental Bank must cease the construction of coal power plants and foreign coal investments. We demand that the government and industries get on board and implement policies that can force high GHG-emission industries go carbon-free.
  4. We demand the Blue House take charge as the central control tower and implement responsible climate policies. The declaration of climate crisis should be the first step toward making climate crises response its paramount task. A grand socio-economic transformation to address climate crisis and social inequality should be reset as the main objective of the Korean Green New Deal.
  5. We demand the government to strengthen the climate disaster safety net. As we undergo intensifying rainfalls, heatwaves, forest fires, infectious diseases, and other forms of climate disasters, the needs to protect the lives and safety of citizens are ever increasing. We call for the government to seek a public path to guarantee citizen safety and aggressive policies to protect the socially weak most vulnerable to climate disasters.

Korea Climate Crisis Emergency Action vows to advance these demands throughout our September campaign. We shall walk in solidarity with citizens of all backgrounds on our path to a safe world free from climate disasters and inequality. We cannot let our lives be taken away because we want to live on this land, this planet.

September 12th, 2020
Korea Climate Crisis Emergency Action