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[#WeFACE] Climate activists calling for big changes, now

Decision-makers should be held accountable for climate crisis, activists say

Climate activist Yoon Hyeon-jeong speaks during the H.eco Forum in Seoul on Thursday. (Park Hae-mook/The Herald Business)
Climate activist Yoon Hyeon-jeong speaks during the H.eco Forum in Seoul on Thursday. (Park Hae-mook/The Herald Business)
Efforts from individuals are important in the fight against the climate crisis, but to save the Earth changes at a larger scale must happen now, climate activists said Thursday.

Under the theme of climate change activism, the third session of Herald Corp.’s first H.eco Forum brought climate activists together to discuss solutions and share ideas.

“We have only six years and seven months to respond to the climate crisis. The climate crisis is not a small problem and it cannot be solved just from the perspective of environmental interests,” said Yoon Hyeon-jeong, a 17-year-old climate activist from Korea’s Youth 4 Climate Action.

She started taking action to address the climate crisis in 2019. But some adults did not take her seriously due to her age, she said, and she faced discrimination while fighting for immediate responses and solutions from the government and politicians.

“Nobody is safe in the climate crisis. It is not just a problem for polar bears,” Yoon said. “The government and companies are pointing fingers at using plastic and waste disposal as if they were the main causes of the climate crisis.”

The government and politicians are avoiding responsibility and putting it on the younger generation, she added.

“I am calling for bigger, systematic changes. I cannot do it alone. I cannot shut down a coal power plant by myself,” Yoon said. “To make changes, we have to be in solidarity and talk about the issue.” 

American rapper Prince Ea is shown in a prerecorded video during the H.eco Forum in Seoul on Thursday. (Park Hae-mook/The Herald Business)
American rapper Prince Ea is shown in a prerecorded video during the H.eco Forum in Seoul on Thursday. (Park Hae-mook/The Herald Business)
Introducing himself as someone who has dedicated the last 10 years to creating video content to make somebody’s day, Prince Ea said, “If we don’t fix climate change, then we will all be equally extinct.”

Prince Ea, whose real name is Richard Williams, has 6 million subscribers on his YouTube channel and his videos have garnered over 300 million views in total.

“The first thing we can do is to find out our own impact that we are having on the environment. You can’t make changes unless you first know where you are,” Prince Ea said.

“Once you see the impact your actions or lifestyle is having on the planet, then you can create a solution to figure out how you can change your behavior, change certain things like transportation or diet. Ultimately, where we want to end up is at a neutral carbon footprint.”

The decisions people make every day play a huge role in either contributing to global warming or reversing it, he added, and 20 percent of climate change problems are directly attributable to food consumption patterns.

“It is so important to hold our leaders accountable,” Prince Ea said. “I believe it’s good to get outside and march and protest and build that solidarity amongst community.”

Emphasizing that it is time to act now and that change can start with each individual, he added that his is the first generation to feel the impact of climate change and the last generation that can do something about it. 

From left, climate activists Yu Jane, Jo Eun-byeol, Kim Seo-gyung and Kim Jae-han discuss the climate crisis during the H.eco Forum in Seoul on Thursday. (Park Hae-mook/The Herald Business)
From left, climate activists Yu Jane, Jo Eun-byeol, Kim Seo-gyung and Kim Jae-han discuss the climate crisis during the H.eco Forum in Seoul on Thursday. (Park Hae-mook/The Herald Business)
The third session on climate change activism was followed by panel discussions on what kind of actions need to be taken to address the climate crisis.

“I think it’s OK to start from what you like or what you are curious about climate crisis,” said BigWave campaigner Jo Eun-byeol.

BigWave is a Korean youth climate change network that was established shortly after the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP21.

“If you start from curiosity and share your knowledge with others, you can do it wholeheartedly. I see that as individual actions in time of climate crisis. It can turn into a force that can change the entire society,” Jo said.

Kim Seo-gyung, an activist from Youth 4 Climate Action, said she has experienced how limited each individual’s efforts can feel.

“Highlighting only individual actions blurs the sense of crisis,” she said. “We know the government and companies are bigger problems in our fight against the climate emergency.”

She added that she does not think we know enough about the climate crisis and we should first recognize the problem clearly before we act.

“All citizens have to act now, but I think how we campaign about the climate crisis should change. It’s at the level of enlightening,” said Kim Jae-han, a film director.

Kim is currently working on producing a film on the climate crisis to raise awareness and think about solutions with citizens.

“Do people not know about the climate crisis? That’s not the case. Civic groups should take aim at the government, politicians and companies when carrying out campaigns,” he said.

By Kan Hyeong-woo (hwkan@heraldcorp.com)
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