It has been reported that, in South Korea, a climate lawsuit was filed in June 2022 by sixty-two babies and children under the age of 11, including a 20-week-old fetus nicknamed “Woodpecker”. Documentation on this case is not yet available, but press reports indicate that the claimants submit that the State is violating the rights of future generations by failing to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. This is the fourth climate case challenging the constitutionality of the Korean climate policy, as contained in the country’s 2021 Carbon Neutrality Act (2021). In this case, the claimants argue that the NDC set out in this Act (of A 40% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 as compared with 2018 levels) violates their constitutional rights to life, equality, property, and to live in a healthy and pleasant environment.
According to the Guardian, this is the first climate case in which a foetus has ever been listed as a claimant.
Further information on this case will be added as it becomes available.
On 12 June 2023, it was announced that the National Human Rights Commission of Korea had decided to submit an opinion to South Korea’s Constitutional Court to oppose the country’s Carbon Neutrality Act (2021), which it considered to be unconstitutional and in violation of the fundamental rights of future generations because it sets out a greenhouse gas emissions reductions target that was too low. The Act sets out a 40% emissions reductions target by 2030 as compared to 2018 levels. This, the Commission found, did not respect the constitutional principle of equality, because it passed the burden of greenhouse gas emissions on to future generations.
Do-Hyun Kim et al. v. South Korea.
23 June 2023.