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Monday May 20th

South Korea’s lawsuit: child plaintiffs fight for action against climate change

<p><em>The lawsuit, Woodpecker et al. v. South Korea, is faulting the government for not providing protection from climate change (Photo courtesy of </em><a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Climate_Change_Camp_Protest.jpg" target=""><em>Wikimedia Commons</em></a><em> / Andrew. August 19, 2007). </em></p>

The lawsuit, Woodpecker et al. v. South Korea, is faulting the government for not providing protection from climate change (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons / Andrew. August 19, 2007). 

By Aneri Upadhyay 
Staff Writer 

South Korea is currently experiencing a major lawsuit against its government. This lawsuit, Woodpecker et al. v. South Korea, is faulting the government for not providing protection from climate change. 

According to the case, the plaintiffs are 62 children under the age of 5, as well as one fetus who was born after the case was filed named “Woodpecker.” The plaintiffs argue that South Korea’s current commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions is not enough. They argue that the present Nationally Determined Contribution, which is a plan to cut emissions, will lead to a “disastrous level of climate change.” 

This case was merged with two other cases that went against the current NDC and its implementation plan. 

On April 23, South Korea’s Constitutional Court began hearing the case, according to Reuters. This is Asia’s first climate lawsuit. Lee Jongseok, the president of the court, commented on the case reaching court.

"The court recognises the importance and public interest of this case and will make efforts to ensure that deliberations are conducted thoroughly," he said.

Rising temperatures have been correlated with fossil fuels being burned and releasing carbon emissions into the atmosphere. South Korea depends on these fuels for growth, according to Reuters. The government has a plan to reach carbon neutrality by 2050. 

According to scientists, if the Earth’s temperature rises above the preindustrial average of 1.5ºC, or 2.7ºF per year, there will be fatal consequences. 

The plaintiffs are arguing that the government is not doing enough to prevent the temperature increase from going over 1.5 degrees Celsius, which defies the state's duty to protect residents’ rights.

The parents of these plaintiffs believe that not acting on climate change immediately will have consequences for their children. According to them, it will become unsafe to even play outside due to fear of a natural disaster. 

It is likely that the government will disagree and argue that they are doing as much as they can with the country’s resources while still supporting their economy, as mentioned by NPR

According to NPR, Woodpecker’s legal representative Lee Donghyun helped make him a plaintiff before he was even born. 

"The more we think this task can be delayed now, the bigger the burden our future generations will have," Donghyun said. "I think it's the same as passing on a debt to your children."

South Korea’s hearing follows Europe’s climate change hearing that ruled that the Swiss government violated residents’ rights due to inaction against climate change. It is still unclear if South Korea’s hearing will follow suit, but this could lead to other countries joining the fight against climate change as well. 




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