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Babies in South Korea suing government over climate change

Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

The people of South Korea are suing the government for not having enough regulations to prevent climate change. According to Nature, this is “the first lawsuit to challenge national climate policies in East Asia” and researchers are predicting that this will start a chain reaction which “could lead to more cases of its kind in the region.”

This lawsuit is a combination of multiple court cases between the years 2020 and 2023. On May 21 the final hearing occurred and the official response has not yet been declared. However, it is believed that this lawsuit will be a large turning point for South Korea’s national environmental policy.

Many companies have been opening factories in Asian countries due to their underpaid workforce, loose safety regulations, and cheap child labor. The large-scale relocating of these factories to Asian countries with limited environmental regulations has caused those countries to be one of the largest producers of greenhouse gasses, which cause climate change. 

This lawsuit is interesting because not only are adults suing the South Korean government, their children, babies, and unborn babies have also been added to the petition. In particular, one unborn child nicknamed Woodpecker has become the symbol for this motion to protect the next generation from the effects of climate change.

When he was a 20-week-old embryo, before he even had a real name, Choi Hee-woo became one of the world’s youngest-ever plaintiffs by joining a groundbreaking climate lawsuit against South Korea.

— Hieun Shin, The Japan Times

The Japan Times has said that South Korea’s current climate change prevention plan is “to reduce carbon emissions by 290 million tons by 2030 and to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. In order to meet this goal, the country needs to reduce emissions by 5.4% every year from 2023, a target they have so far failed to meet.”

Noh Dong-woon, a professor at Hanyang University in Seoul stated that with South Korea’s current situation it is “highly unlikely that Seoul will meet its official climate goals.” 

The next generation does not plan on wasting time during this time-sensitive environmental crisis and are making their voices heard. At only 12 years old, Han Jeah has been a leading activist and has made many statements about climate change. 

“When the Earth’s temperature rises two degrees Celsius more, none of the adults who are talking about this right now will still be around, even President (Yoon Suk-yeol),” young Jeah  said in a statement, “the children left behind will be responsible for reducing carbon emissions and suffer the consequences.”

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About the Contributor
Baily Hacker
Baily Hacker, Assistant Editor
Baily Hacker is a Sophomore at Powhatan High School and is an assistant editor for the PHS Arrowhead. In Baily's free time she likes baking, drawing, and hanging out with her friends and cats. She lives with her mom, dad, four cats, and sixteen chickens. Baily believes the news is important because so many people rely on it to know what is happening in the world. Her dream college is JMU and she wants to travel the world.

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