Greenpeace sets up ‘last booth’ in South Korea to highlight climate crisis


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A Greenpeace Korea activist holds a placard Thursday calling for stronger climate policies, including a total phase-out of coal-fired power plants by 2030. Photo by Thomas Maresca / UPI

SEOUL, January 6 (UPI) – Greenpeace Korea on Thursday unveiled what it called the “last booth” in downtown Seoul as part of a campaign to put climate issues at the forefront of the South Korean presidential election in March.

The voting booth, a tattered replica of a traditional voting machine, was placed near the city’s iconic Gyeongbokgung Palace to raise awareness that this election “could be the last vote to stop the climate crisis in the city. Korean political history, ”the environmental group said in a statement. .

A video loop inside the booth showed a simulation of the palace submerged in flooding due to extreme weather conditions and rising sea levels.

“We believe that climate change is one of the most important issues to discuss during the presidential campaign,” Daul Jang, government relations and advocacy specialist for Greenpeace Korea, told UPI. “So we wanted to show people that unless we tackle climate change, as soon as possible and as ambitious as possible, our future is in danger right now.”

South Korea remains heavily dependent on fossil fuels for its energy needs, producing around 40% of its electricity from coal and only 6.5% from renewable sources.

The country is committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. President Moon Jae-in introduced a $ 60 billion Green New Deal in 2020 to invest in environmentally friendly industries and technologies. Moon also pledged in November to reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% by 2030, a significant improvement from the previous target of 26%.

However, Greenpeace and other climate watchers say South Korea’s targets are not enough to meet the demands of the 2015 Paris climate accords, which aim to limit global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels to avoid environmental disaster. .

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report in August that Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called a “code red for humanity,” saying Earth was already “dangerously close” to Earth. threshold of 1.5 degrees and required bold and immediate action.

Greenpeace Korea has released a seven-point climate policy agenda, which includes increasing the ratio of renewables to 50% and completely phasing out coal-fired power plants by 2030, and called on presidential candidates to respond. .

Yoon Suk-yeol, the opposition People Power Party candidate, has indicated his support for South Korea’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2050, while Lee Jae-myung of Moon’s Democratic Party has offered to push back the 10-year goal and establish a carbon tax.

Jang said, however, that neither of the top two candidates had been specific enough in their plans and noted that climate change was an afterthought on the election campaign and media coverage. Greenpeace calls on candidates to organize climate-focused televised debates.

The environmental group also warned Thursday of the dangers to South Korea’s economic performance posed by climate change. He shared a report from Deloitte Korea that estimated South Korea’s economy could lose a total of $ 780 billion by 2070 if it fails to adequately respond to the climate crisis, while action aggressively could add over $ 1.9 trillion over the same period.

Climate change “is not seen as as important as security or economic issues, even though the climate crisis itself is a serious national security and national economy issue,” Jang said. “This is the last Korean election for us to properly address climate change on time.”

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