Why penguins monitor the climate crisis and extinction crisis

Among the gases that make up the atmosphere, carbon dioxide and methane, which cause a greenhouse effect, are called greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gases play an important role in maintaining Earth’s temperature because they absorb or reflect heat from the sun, raising the Earth’s surface temperature. The reason such important greenhouse gases are pointed out as the cause of ‘global warming’ is because there are ‘too many’ of them. So why are there so many greenhouse gases? This is because of human activity. Greenhouse gases are largely generated in the energy sector that produces heat or electricity, the industrial sector such as manufacturing steel or concrete, the transportation sector such as automobiles, aviation, railways, and shipping, and the livestock sector where livestock are raised such as raising cows and producing milk. do.

The power sector ranks first in greenhouse gas emissions in Korea, and the industrial sector ranks second. In addition to efforts to reduce greenhouse gases by sector, monitoring of the civilian industrial sector in particular is continuously needed. For this purpose, there is a place that created the concept of ‘1 Million Ton Club’. These are the Korea Institute for Land and Environment, the Climate Change Action Research Institute, the Korea Society for Sustainable Development, and News Penguin. News Penguin is a small-scale internet media outlet that was founded in 2017 as a media outlet specializing in endangered species. In order to monitor our country, which ranked 11th in the world in greenhouse gas emissions as of 2017, we did it through collaboration with other organizations despite a lack of manpower.

Last February, we published an article about the 1 million ton club in general, and since June, we have been monitoring major companies by industry. News Penguin’s ‘Corporate Climate Action Index Project-Greenhouse Gas 1 Million Ton Club’ won the ‘Ministerial Coalition for Good Reporting of the Month’ award in August 2023. Where does News Penguin’s power come from?

Climate crisis and extinction crisis revealed by penguins- Please introduce ‘News Penguin’.

Lim Byeong-seon: From its inception, News Penguin decided to only cover the climate crisis and extinction crisis. It is a Newsstand affiliated media that can be searched on Naver and Daum, and while it consistently covers only the climate crisis and extinction crisis, it still has a following of fans and has about 47,000 followers on Instagram.

The reason penguin was included in the title is because this animal is related to both the climate crisis and the extinction crisis. There are a total of 19 species of penguins around the world, of which 9 are endangered species and 2 are on the verge of extinction. Most penguins live in cold regions, and their habitat is shrinking due to the climate crisis. Although it is not an endangered species, it is called the ‘Adelie penguin’, and when it rained instead of snow in Antarctica, some of its chicks froze to death. Above all, it is cute and has great symbolism, so it is very helpful. When I say, ‘Who is the news penguin?’, everyone asks, ‘What is the news?’, but when I say, ‘An animal penguin,’ everyone remembers me well.

– I saw that at the beginning of the magazine’s launch, it declared, ‘We will not do business with climate villains who cause global warming.’ It has now been changed to ‘We are open to collaboration with governments, affiliated organizations, and businesses that are working to prevent global warming.’

Lim Byeong-seon: Our intention from the beginning was not to partner with climate villains, but it did not mean we would not collaborate with anyone. This trend will not change, and the search for climate villains will continue. Of course, it is important to collaborate with companies that are trying to prevent global warming, but it is also necessary to check whether they are greenwashing companies. However, to clearly point out which companies are climate villains, all aspects must be examined. It would be good for citizens to keep in mind that just because they talk a lot about the climate crisis does not mean they are a company that is good at responding to the climate crisis. It may be ‘successful marketing’, but you have to consider whether it is actually so. In particular, we are paying close attention to companies that conduct one-time campaigns such as picking up trash without reducing their own greenhouse gas emissions.

– Are there any difficulties in the media environment where advertising revenue is the main source of finance and news is consumed through portals?

Lim Byeong-seon: Of course, the difficulties are great. Advertisements themselves do not come easily to small media outlets, and from an advertiser’s perspective, they would want to give advertisements to media outlets that write good words. However, as we are a media that seeks to reveal the problems of the climate crisis and extinction crisis and show solutions, we often point out the mistakes of companies and governments, which account for a large portion of advertisers. Naturally, there are difficulties in receiving advertising orders.

– Are there any other difficulties faced by small-scale media?

Lim Byeong-seon: There are so many issues to address in the field of climate and ecology, but the difficulty is that they cannot all be addressed. In particular, there are many cases where field visits are required, which increases the burden of manpower allocation. However, there are no major problems caused by a small organization. Although it is difficult to carry out large-scale projects at the same time, there is an advantage in that members can coordinate well in their own way. Perhaps because reporters have the goal of spreading awareness of the climate crisis and extinction crisis and raising awareness, there is little conflict in item selection or tone of voice. Of course, there are various spectrums, so discussions take place. I think the fact that reporters have similar interests is a huge advantage.

– You can hear surprising news related to animals or the environment through News Penguin articles. However, on portal sites, animals and related incidents are often used as click bait. Is there anything to keep in mind when selecting items?

Lim Byeong-seon: We do not report ‘just’ shocking or provocative items. When delivering news or events that may attract attention, I always think about the other side. For example, the ‘rib-bone lion’ at Bukyung Zoo in Gimhae, Gyeongsangnam-do, which has recently become a hot topic (it was discovered so thin that its ribs were visible, sparking controversy over animal abuse and poor management) is not a matter that can be simply pitied. In the case of animal-related reports, there are times when their strange and cute aspects are highlighted, but basically, animals are treated with caution as a connecting point that brings people and nature closer, and there is no intention to attract clicks.

Corporate climate actions must be properly evaluated- We analyzed the greenhouse gas emissions and energy usage of domestic companies from 2018 to 2021 together with the Korea Institute for Land, Infrastructure and Environment, the Climate Change Action Research Institute, and the Korea Society for Sustainable Development. I’m curious about its beginning.

Lim Byeong-seon: We have not often collaborated with the three organizations, and this is our first Climate Action Index project. There was an agreement between each organization and News Penguin that the role and actions of companies in responding to the climate crisis should be made important to the public. We collaborated to create a bigger impact by doing our own tasks, such as data analysis and reporting. In particular, researchers specializing in data analysis contributed a lot to analyzing greenhouse gas emissions and energy use. We began analysis based on publicly available data, and are refining this data and creating and managing a database.

-Why did you become interested in corporate greenhouse gas emissions?

Lim Byeong-seon: The climate crisis is a result of economic activity, and of course, companies are the largest emitters of greenhouse gases. Even though it is a problem that involves all members of society, we judged that companies have a great responsibility. The Climate Action Index was developed to evaluate companies’ climate actions. Companies say they are making efforts to respond to the climate crisis through press releases, public relations, advertisements, and sustainability reports. You need to evaluate whether you are really doing well.

– The reason why ‘1 million tons’ of greenhouse gas emissions is the standard.

Lim Byeong-seon: When companies with the highest greenhouse gas emissions were ranked in order and cut by 1 million tons, the top companies accounted for 75%. As of 2021, there are a total of 73 companies with annual greenhouse gas emissions exceeding 1 million tons, which accounts for 6.8% of the 1,075 companies analyzed. However, they emitted 509.74 million tons of greenhouse gases in 2021, accounting for 75% of greenhouse gas emissions in the same year. This figure determines the greenhouse gas emissions of domestic companies. Because it was symbolic, 1 million tons was deemed appropriate.

– After the selection of the 1 Million Ton Club, an article was published taking a closer look at each industry. The first was the cement industry.

Lim Byeong-seon: The cement industry is the industry that emits the second largest amount of greenhouse gases after the steel industry. When considering carbon intensity, which measures how much greenhouse gases are emitted compared to energy used, 7 out of the top 10 companies are in the cement industry. Even though we acknowledge that a lot of greenhouse gases are emitted due to the nature of the industry, we decided that now is the time to check the performance of greenhouse gas reduction.

– In particular, the Korean cement industry is very weak compared to overseas. There is no carbon neutral roadmap at the Korea Cement Association level, and none of the six domestic cement manufacturers among the world’s top 100 cement manufacturers have joined the International Cement-Concrete Association.

Lim Byeong-seon: After learning about this, the editorial office was also embarrassed. Even researchers said they were surprised. This is because when we started planning, we thought that the top few companies would join international associations and do some work to respond to the climate crisis.

– In addition to the 1 Million Ton Club, we also created the ‘Climate Action Index’ to evaluate corporate climate action.

Lim Byeong-seon: The Climate Action Index is an evaluation frame developed to compare and evaluate the degree of climate action of each company in industries that emit large amounts of greenhouse gases. Since the 1 Million Ton Club companies have diverse industries and different companies, I thought this frame was necessary to evaluate them by the same standard. Basically, five indicators are used: accountability, effectiveness, proactiveness, transparency, and efficiency. Taking responsibility as an example, a company with the highest greenhouse gas emissions among companies in the same industry is assigned a lower responsibility score. Effectiveness is an indicator that determines how much emissions have been reduced starting from 2018, the government’s carbon reduction standard year. What is important is that the weight reflected in the evaluation is different for each item. This weight is the result of a survey of climate and sustainability-related experts.

– The climate action index calculation method was disclosed in detail in a separate article. It’s unusual, but there’s a reason.

Lim Byeong-seon: This is because the calculation method must be disclosed to increase the trust of citizens and officials and also to receive verification. This is a natural step for a fair and accurate evaluation.

Just as News Penguin monitors companies, citizens should also watch News Penguin.- Was there any response from industry or the government after this plan?

Lim Byeong-seon: There were cases where people were curious about the process of selecting the 1 million ton club or creating the climate action index, but it was 스포츠토토disappointing that there was no response that they would do anything to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. I think our articles will also be searched when companies monitor the media… . Even if it is not necessarily a direct response, I hope that the industry and government will take a better direction in responding to the climate crisis through News Penguin’s reporting.

– After looking into the cement industry, we recently analyzed the petrochemical and oil refining industries. What industry is next?

Lim Byeong-seon: We plan to look into the electrical and electronics industry. This includes Samsung and LG, which citizens are familiar with.

– The carbon intensity of steel companies was also high. Is there a reason why this has not been addressed yet?

Lim Byeong-seon: Steel is already covered a lot, and there are clear emission sources, so we covered other industries that are not in the spotlight first. Steel will be dealt with immediately.

-What are the News Penguin editorial staff’s interests these days?

Lim Byeong-seon: It is a system where reporters each find an area of ​​interest, but the common topic seems to be business. I am thinking about how to report on corporate responsibility and required actions regarding the climate crisis and ecological issues.

– Lastly, what would you like to say to citizens and readers?

Lim Byeong-seon: Just as News Penguin, as a media outlet, monitors the direction of companies and governments responding to the climate crisis, citizens must also watch in order for News Penguin to follow the right path. We ask you to keep an eye on and monitor what we are doing, and to show interest and support from those who support us.

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