The Korea Herald


Human rights watchdog says Korea's carbon neutrality scheme not enough

By Lee Jaeeun

Published : June 13, 2023 - 14:47

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The National Human Rights Commission of Korea The National Human Rights Commission of Korea

The state human rights watchdog said Tuesday it has decided to submit its opinion to the Constitutional Court to oppose the Carbon Neutrality Act, saying the law is unconstitutional because the government's target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions is too low.

The National Human Rights Commission of Korea said it opposed the country's Carbon Neutrality Act, which was passed in September 2021, as Article 8 Clause 1 and its implementing ordinance Article 3 Clause 1 are "unconstitutional" and violate the fundamental rights of future generations. The decision was made during a plenary session held Monday, the NHRC said, noting that the opinion will be submitted to the Constitutional Court in the coming weeks, though the timeline has not been confirmed.

The law stipulates that by 2030, the government must work to lower the country's greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent compared to 2018.

The NHRC has concluded that the goal outlined in the act would unjustly pass on the burden of cutting down emissions to future generations after the 2030 deadline, arguing that the law does not conform to the principle of equality under the Constitution.

It added that the state has abandoned its obligation to protect the freedom and rights of future generations without making sufficient legislative efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Currently, there are four climate change-related lawsuits filed with the Constitutional Court.

In March 2020, Youth Climate Action, a local civic group, filed a constitutional complaint claiming that the "weak government target" for reducing greenhouse gas emissions violates the right to life, happiness and the environment, as well as the right to equality of future generations. Since then, a group of middle school activists and other climate advocate groups, including Climate Crisis Emergency Action and the Baby Climate Litigation Team, have also filed constitutional complaints for similar reasons.