Search

Climate crisis is an imminent danger... The government's view is unconstitutional


Immediately after the Dutch Supreme Court ruled against the government on December 20 of last year that it would "change the greenhouse gas reduction plan properly," officials from Jürhenda, who were involved in the lawsuit, gathered in front of the court and rejoiced. Offered by Urgenda Foundation

Youth Climate Action Korea filed a constitutional petition against the government and the National Assembly to fulfill their responsibilities in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. On the 24th of last month, just nineteen days after nineteen plaintiffs in adolescent climate action filed a lawsuit, the Constitutional Court made a decision. It was considered that the youth's request for a constitutional appeal was satisfied with the minimum requirements for the trial. The face of the lawyer who was concerned about the dismissal turned bright. What is the government's answer? Could Korean youth's constitutional lawsuit result in the world's first prevailing climate suit, the Dutch “Urgenda ruling?” The Urgenda ruling was brought up by the Dutch environmental group Urgenda Foundation in 2013 and confirmed by the Dutch Supreme Court at the end of last year. Urgenda is a combination of the “Urgent Agenda,” which involved about 900 Dutch citizens in their case. In both the first trials in 2015 and the second trials in 2018, they ruled that the Dutch government should cut more than 25% of greenhouse gas emissions in 1990 by 2020. The ruling has the significance that the Dutch government has judicially identified the lowest line of greenhouse gas reduction planned. It means, "at least as much as possible to reduce the state's duty to protect the people's right to life." Following this ruling, the government's passive response to the climate change issue became known and a public outrage occurred. It has also triggered over 1,000 climate lawsuits in the world. To fully escape the dangers of climate change, countries must strive as much as their respective responsibilities. The world's first climate suit, the Dutch “Urgenda ruling,” was the same. The Dutch Supreme Court, which confirmed the ruling at the end of last year, said, “Each country can evade its share because of its small impact on a global scale, or because other countries are not fulfilling their partial responsibilities. "No." It is not that developed countries, which are more responsible for climate change, or some countries with higher emissions, are not fully responsible. To look at the issues of the Urgenda lawsuit, you need to know the content of the Paris Climate Change Agreement signed in 195 countries including Korea in 2015. Unlike the “Kyoto Protocol System,” which imposes obligations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions only in developed countries, the Paris Agreement requires all Contracting States to fulfill their responsibilities. In recent years (2006-2015), the global average temperature rose 0.87 compared to the pre-industrial period (1850-1900). The Paris Agreement stipulates that the temperature rise should be much lower than 2 degrees and should be as low as 1.5 degrees. However, achieving this goal is not easy. According to the '1.5-degree report' published by the Intergovernmental Council on Climate Change in 2018, if global warming continues at the current rate, the average global temperature rise between 2030 and 2052 will exceed 1.5 degrees. This is true even if the national reduction targets submitted by each country are implemented according to the current Paris Agreement. In 2030, the total greenhouse gas emissions of the earth amounted to 52 billion to 58 billion tons, exceeding the 1.5 degree standard by 17 billion to 33 billion tons. In this way, the global temperature in 2100 will rise by 3 degrees compared to before industrialization, and it will be an irreversible disaster. It has been assumed to be reduced by 30%. In a letter to the Dutch House of Representatives in 2009, the Dutch Minister of the Environment also said, "If the reduction rate is lower than 25%, it is difficult to achieve the second-degree goal." However, in 2011, the Dutch government lowered its target of reduction rate to 20%. Instead, it said it would accelerate the reduction to 49% in 2030 and 95% in 2050. Because it was difficult to achieve the goal, it was postponed. In a lawsuit, Urgenda asked, "Is it necessary to reduce at least 25% to achieve the second-degree goal or not?" The Dutch Supreme Court said, "The longer the reduction measures to achieve the final goal are postponed, the more effort and cost will be required to realize the goal. It seems that there is little likelihood of realization of the goal because it is not properly presented." The Dutch court then emphasized the state's obligations under the European Convention on the Protection of Human Rights and Basic Freedom. “According to the European Court of Human Rights, there is a“ specific and imminent risk ”to the lives or welfare of the people, and if the country is aware of this risk, the country is obliged to take appropriate action.” At the time, the Dutch courts considered that risk not only becomes a reality in the short term, but it also includes cases where the problem is a direct threat to people, even over a long period of time. The risk of climate change is also a 'specific and imminent risk' that will eventually destroy the lives or family life of Dutch residents over the long term.


Youth Climate Action 'youths held a press conference in front of the Constitutional Court in Jongno-gu, Seoul. They filed a constitutional petition against the government and the National Assembly, saying they would be responsible for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Prior to the lawsuits in Urgenda, the Dutch government has assumed that by 2011, the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions is to be reduced by 30% from 1990 to 1990. In a letter to the Dutch House of Representatives in 2009, the Dutch Minister of the Environment also said, "If the reduction rate is lower than 25%, it is difficult to achieve the second-degree goal." However, in 2011, the Dutch government lowered its target of reduction rate to 20%. Instead, it said it would accelerate the reduction to 49% in 2030 and 95% in 2050. Because it was difficult to achieve the goal, it was postponed. In a lawsuit, Urgenda asked, "Is it necessary to reduce at least 25% to achieve the second-degree goal or not?" The Dutch Supreme Court said, "The longer the reduction measures to achieve the final goal are postponed, the more effort and cost will be required to realize the goal. It seems that there is little likelihood of realization of the goal because it is not properly presented." The Dutch court then emphasized the state's obligations under the European Convention on the Protection of Human Rights and Basic Freedom. “According to the European Court of Human Rights, there is a“ specific and imminent risk ”to the lives or welfare of the people, and if the country is aware of this risk, the country is obliged to take appropriate action.” At the time, the Dutch courts considered that risk not only becomes a reality in the short term, but it also includes cases where the problem is a direct threat to people, even over a long period of time. The risk of climate change is also a 'specific and imminent risk' that will eventually destroy the lives or family life of Dutch residents over the long term. The Urgenda lawsuit has great implications for us as well. Korea has never had a proper reduction in emissions. The Korean government participated in the Paris Climate Change Agreement in 2015 with 194 countries. The agreement was ratified in 2016, the following year, but it has not kept the greenhouse gas emission target set by the agreement so far. Even in the draft “2050 long-term low-carbon development strategy,” which has just begun discussions, the scenario of making net emissions zero (zero) is missing. Even if the global net emissions by 2050 are not zero, it is not easy to achieve the “second degree goal." The youth and lawyers who filed the lawsuit will point out the government's abandonment of responsibility.


Byeong-ju Lee, a lawyer for youth climate litigation, said, “We think this is not a declarative or a trial lawsuit for the campaign of the environmental movement, but a lawsuit to win and win. I hope that this case will be enough, and that good results will help Korea become a force to implement more aggressive greenhouse gas reduction targets.”

90 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All