COP27: K-Pop Fans Call on Global Leaders to Take Bolder Climate Action


COP27: K-Pop Fans Call on Global Leaders to Take Bolder Climate Action

11 November 2022 – by ETA Editorial Team   Comments (0)

Planting up to 114,000 trees, fans have taken real action to protect the environment. Can world leaders say the same?

November 10, 2022 – In line with COP27’s youth day, fan-driven climate platform KPOP4PLANET has revealed new data showing that K-pop fans worldwide had reduced up to 28,000 tons of CO2 from the Earth by planting 113,824 trees over the past ten years.

Since August, KPOP4PLANET has collected data on global fan-led forest projects as part of their ‘Fandom 4 Forest’ campaign. An online map shows the full scale of K-pop fans’ efforts from 80 different fandoms located in 21 countries. Fans are now asking global leaders to match that energy and take concrete action to reduce future emissions by protecting the world’s forests.

“K-pop fans have taken action to protect forests by planting and adopting trees – which help absorb carbon and protect habitats – even creating their own forests,” said Nurul Sarifah, a KPOP4PLANET activist who coordinated the campaign in Indonesia. “Through these projects, not only are fans helping the environment, but they’re also supporting Indigenous communities and their livelihoods.”

Planting Trees is Part of the K-pop Fandom Culture 

K-pop fandoms celebrate their favourite idols – known as “faves” or a “bias” – by marking their birthdays or debut anniversaries. Fans often buy gifts, send cakes and flowers, or arrange large-scale ad campaigns globally with pictures of their faves. Another way fans show their love is to donate to charities or plant trees in honour of their favourite group or member. 

Top Tree Countries

Based on data collected by KPOP4PLANET, Indonesia contains the most trees planted by fans, with 52,636 trees, South Korea with 35,377 trees, and India with 13,483 trees.

“Last September, we planted 1,737 mangroves to celebrate BTS’ 9th anniversary,” said Dinda, an organiser from the BTS Indonesia fan group Wings of Bangtan. “We chose to plant mangroves because we know that they are one of the best ways for us to reduce emissions, and we also hope that this project will support biodiversity along our coastlines.” 

K-pop fan culture also extends to the host country of COP27. In 2020, BTS fans in Egypt planted 26 trees, including olive, pomegranate, moringa, and lemon, in Obour, Egypt, to celebrate the 26th birthday of the group’s leader, RM. 

“In honour of our Kim Namjoon, known as RM, the leader of the biggest boy group in the world, BTS, we have organised to plant 26 trees for his 26th birthday in 2020 in Al-Obour in Egypt,” said Rana, one of the organisers of BTS Lotus ARMY. “We wanted to make an impact in Egypt’s environment to be remembered, just like how BTS made an impact on the whole world.”

From Planting Trees to Protecting the Forest

According to the book The Role of Mangroves Forests in Decarbonizing the Atmosphere by Charles Nyanga, mangroves can store and stockpile carbon anywhere from 50 to 220 metric tons during their growing period per acre, or more than 24 million metric tons of carbon per year worldwide. 

Beyond sequestering carbon, mangroves have other benefits thanks to their tight growth of roots and branches. According to the World Wildlife Fund, mangroves help disrupt rising water levels and large waves, which protect people, homes, and infrastructure during powerful storm surges. 

Fan involvement in protecting the environment doesn’t stop at planting trees either. Recently, fans have begun to “adopt” trees in existing forests, meaning fans can donate funds to take care of a tree of their choosing for one year. This helps conserve forests and protect local environments and communities, as the donations are also used to support their livelihoods.

“Don’t Fool Us,” Fans Say, Calling Out Global Leaders

In the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration at the UN COP26 summit last year, more than 100 world leaders promised to end and reverse global deforestation by 2030. 

However, in just one example from Brazil, which was a signatory, data from the National Space Institute of Brazil shows that forest clearing in the Amazon rainforest was up 48% from last year. That’s 1,455 square kilometres or 562 square miles of a forest gone. 

New research has also found that many other Glasgow signatories fail to meet their commitments to protect forests, despite their pledges.

“The climate crisis is getting worse, and it’s time governments and corporations take responsibility and stop giving excuses. Reduce emissions, end deforestation,” said Dayeon Lee, a South Korea-based KPOP4PLANET activist.

KPOP4PLANET is a global climate activist platform launched in March 2021 by K-pop fans. It is composed of fandoms across the world, including in South Korea and Indonesia. 

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