Following is the slogan of the march followed by the demand for the government, proposed by the Climate Justice March Group.
"People Power to Overcome the Crisis"
“위기를 넘는 우리의 힘 - 923기후정의행진”
[Background of 923 Climate Justice March and Demands]
1. Why 923 Climate Justice March?
The impact of climate disaster is devastating. While warnings from scientific reports including IPCC reports are mounting, the frequency and intensity of climate disasters are also breaking records every year. Disasters are accelerating, posing threats to daily life. The government’s responses so far have been minimal: They have failed to provide protection for their citizens at the time of crises such as landslides, floods, extreme heat, and typhoons. Public safety and protection of the daily living environment are put into question.
Over the past year, the current government of President Yoon has repealed some of the welfare policies that are considered as achievements of the previous people's movement. The current government is oppressive to workers’ rights; they cut the budget for welfare programs while catering to the interests of mega-corporations and of the high-income class through deregulation and tax cuts. It was no surprise that when a subcontracted worker of a shipbuilding company protested last year with a slogan that wrote “I refuse to live this way,” it quickly became viral. The government’s silence and lack of response to climate disasters that recently swept the country reveals the absence of intent to fight the climate crisis.
The National Plan for Carbon Neutrality and Green Growth is the government’s pretext for expanding the nuclear power industry. While the nuclear industry has revealed numerous serious issues, by operating expired nuclear power plants, constructing more nuclear power plants, and overlooking the serious crime of dumping of nuclear water into the ocean by Japan, the government is trapped in delusion and arrogance believing that the nuclear technology is a one-size-fits-all solution to climate crisis.
The construction of Samcheok coal power plant, despite the revealed impact of destruction on the environment and people, is ongoing; the fossil fuel industry continues to grow; the essential rights to energy, transportation, medical insurance, and housing are slowly being privatized; the once-promised plan to reform the environment for the worker and local community is out of place; the basic right to food is at stake; farmers’ lives in rural areas are collapsing. At the same time, more airports are being constructed; more cable cars are introduced to national parks; the restoration of the 4 River Project is regressing. It is as if the government is determined to exacerbate the ecosystem as fast as it can - like a car running at its full speed with loose bolts and nuts.
2) Beyond crisis
These problems are not exclusive to the current government. The pretext of carbon neutrality had also been used by the previous government as a way to incentivize economic growth while disguising the true and viable solutions to climate disasters. The challenges posed by the system of capitalism are massive. While capitalism has driven the society to be obsessed with growth and profit at the cost of destroying the ecosystem and human rights, it created the very crisis that we’re now in. At the root of this crisis is a system that prioritizes money over life, capital over labor, development over the environment, competition over coexistence, and private property over human rights. Cracking or breaking off from this system is the only way to overcome the climate crisis. Each sector of society, including the environment, transportation, housing, food, health, and energy, needs a fundamental transformation.
The climate crisis is also an issue of global inequality. It is closely linked to the long history of colonialism and exploitation of manpower and natural resources by the global North of the global South. Until injustice and inequality on a global level are addressed, there will be no climate justice. The global North and the wealthy are responsible to abide by the Polluter Pays Principle and pay the Ecological Debt towards the global South. South Korea, condemned by the international community as a climate villain, is no exception. At the same time, policies to reduce carbon emission should be pursued vigorously with respect to climate justice: The investment and development of fossil fuel projects must halt; Loss and Damage should be funded to support the global South. Only radical changes will lead to climate justice.
We are now in the year of 2023. Where should we start taking countering actions? We must stop more sacrifices from being made. Those responsible for the disaster must be called out; everyone's right to live and work without putting their lives at stake must be prioritized. Nuclear power can never be an alternative to the climate crisis. It is urgent for us to go beyond nuclear and fossil fuels and seek energy transition. The new transition should serve the public, not the profit. A just transition means the lives and rights of workers and people are respected with dignity. What we need is not more cars but a stronger system of public transportation that guarantees everyone’s right to move. To make the railroad services be managed by the public department, not by private corporations, for instance, is the answer. We must withdraw the plans to construct new airports and develop national parks to halt further destruction of the ecosystem. We need new politics and new democracy led by those who are at the front-line of the crises, not the politicians and polluters like the people who run mega-corporations. Let us crack the system that we’re part of.
3) People power to overcome the crisis
Transitioning beyond the climate crisis cannot be achieved by a few people or groups only. It is possible when each of us facing the climate crisis at the forefront comes together to create a collective power. In fact, we have been nurturing this power. Over the past four years, the climate actions and movement became more widespread and inclusive. The Climate Crisis Emergency Action, attended by 6,000 people in September 2019, has grown to host 30,000 people in September 2022. In April 2023, 4,000 people surrounded the Sejong Government Complex to demand changes. The direction of the climate movement and climate action has also evolved. Beyond warning the seriousness of the climate crisis, there is now a growing recognition of the root cause, inequality, which gave rise to the need for a fundamental transformation of the current system.
We need to expand the scope of our collective power. Through the past elections, it was evident that climate justice was not a main political agenda. In fact, the vested interests of the political parties is one of the biggest challenges to climate justice. In the political arena, where the needs of the society should be addressed, the subject of the climate crisis is being deliberately excluded. The elections of the National Assembly are ahead in 2024. We need to create a new democracy and new politics in the era of climate crisis. Those with power and money should not be left to make their own decisions. The excluded and ordinary people must regain collective power - not the power to exploit and destroy but the power to conceive a new world with a transformative system that guarantees collective well-being and care. The 923 Climate Justice March will be an opportunity to enhance solidarity and human dignity. The 923 Climate Justice March is a step toward regaining people’s collective power.
Five major demands
1. Ensure everyone's right to live with safety and dignity in the time of crisis
2. Transition away from nuclear power and fossil fuels. Move towards the public-led renewable energy and ensure the worker’s livelihood
3. Stop privatizing railways. Expand public transportation to ensure everyone's right to move
4. Stop constructing new airports and developing national parks, which are detrimental to the ecosystem and climate crisis
5. Hold accountable the mega polluters like multinational corporations and the wealthy responsible for the climate crisis. Listen instead to the voices of those at the fore
1)Respond properly to climate disasters. Protect the safety and dignity of everybody including the workers
2) Inequality is another name for the climate crisis. Ensure everyone's basic rights to energy and housing
3) Nuclear power is not the solution to the climate crisis. Suspend policies for maintenance and/or expansion of nuclear power. Demand from Japan to stop ocean dumping of the nuclear waste water
4) Enact law for phasing out coal. Immediately stop the construction of the Samcheok Coal Power Plant. Revise the current fossil fuel phase-out plan.
5) Energy transition must not be left to private business owners. Expand public renewable energy
6) Establish preventive measures and plans for just transition for the community including plans to guarantee the livelihood of the workers
7) Withdraw plans to construct new airports and develop national parks for making profits
8) Seek a just transition from the factory farming that commodifies non-human animals
9) Stop privatizing railroad services. Enhance the public transportation system that guarantees everyone's right to move
10) Stop capitalizing agricultural production. Support farmers’ transition to ecological agriculture. Ensure farmers' right to livelihood and food sovereignty
11) Devise alternative plans that would protect the dignity of people in the time of climate crisis. Abolish discrimination; promote public care; expand public health care; reduce working hours
12) Annul the declared The National Plan for Carbon Neutrality and Green Growth, which fails to address climate justice and solutions to inequality. Instead, hold accountable the mega-corporations and financial capital
13) Promote peace by arms reduction. Instead, create a fund that supports climate solutions
14) Reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Pay the ecological debt that South Korea owes to other countries abiding by the principles of global climate justice