Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Environmentally Friendly Elections

Elections are an important exercise of a citizen's rights that determine the future of a country. However, is the current election method efficient in terms of information delivery, voter acceptance, and environmentally friendly? In the Peace Weekly, Peace Column a member of the Bishops' Committee on the environment gives the readers her opinion on elections and the environment.

According to the Central Election Commission data, during the 2018 local elections, there were 104,000 posters, 640 million copies of election bulletins, and 13,192 banners. In the 20th general election, we had some increase in these figures.

One media reported looking at the 2020 election demand for paper such as ballots and promotional printouts and looking ahead to the 21st general election: 8,500 tons would be generated. Already 20 years ago, the issue was raised and alternatives were proposed, but nothing has changed.

It is common to print banners before elections, on polyester materials, which are difficult to recycle because of the ink. Even if some of them are recycled, they cannot be put to good use. Eventually, most of them are incinerated emitting dioxin, a hazardous substance. The vast amount of paper used for pre-promotional materials, ballots, posters, etc., requires the cutting down of trees that help the Earth to breathe.

The world has changed, but the way the elections are conducted are still not environmentally friendly or effective. The method of distributing paper publications in the mail also needs to change. Paper publications are familiar to our generation, but those who follow are not used to it and they now have started voting. Most people have a smartphone, so they are familiar with the Internet environment. It is necessary to replace the existing paper mail with a text message link for those who want it and enable the voter to search for candidates and their positions on the website of the Central Election Commission as a basic rule.

Even now, many candidates have not submitted their pledges to the website of the Central Election Commission. Since Korea is an internet powerhouse, it would make it easy to search for the necessary candidates and their positions and review them when we want to, like searching for news articles on the Internet. This would save resources, protect the environment, and increase the efficiency of public relations and give voters more time to reflect.

In particular, the huge cost of elections comes from the tax of the people. Going to an eco-friendly election will also help with financial health. However, since it is important to provide fair information in the election, fundamental changes to the election promotion system are premised.

In this recent election because of Coronavirus, along with the ballot, we had the thermometer, hand sanitizer, disposable plastic gloves, and masks. The disposable plastic gloves distributed in the general election would pile up to the hight of one of the tallest buildings many times over. It was calculated the amount of greenhouse gas emissions because of the plastic gloves used in the election, would be the same as the greenhouse gas emissions generated during the life of 15 big cars. How much greenhouse gas is generated, with all the other needs of an election?

Eco Life also applies to elections. She hopes that Korea, the first country in the world to have an election during the Corona 19 era will create a new model of green elections for future generations.

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