As IPCC is about to issues its next report cementing scientific evidence of the need to leave fossil fuels in the ground in order to avoid heating our atmosphere to more than 2 degrees C, our friends Nugzar and Tsiako from the Republic of Georgia think of the local anti-coal campaign they help to lead.
‘Not so much time have passed since Global Power Shift meeting in Istanbul (Turkey), and I remember it very clearly, – says Nugzar. More than 500 people gathered together to think about climate change and the new ways are to fight against it. Then we took the fight back home.
There are some people who say that climate change is just a fake and a myth. However, every day, every moment we see a lot of new natural catastrophes around the world. We need to find solution and we already found some of them. This is our common effort to unite all young people, all communities and popularize alternative ways of energy production. But, before, we need to unite our human energy to stop fossil fuels industry where it’s possible and work with government, even, impact on government to change policy and start planning everything according to ecological agenda.
After Global Power Shift gathering we started to work on Georgian Power Shift Event, which took place in Tkibuli. Tkibuli is a small city. There were many coal mines there in Soviet period, including 4 big mines. At the moment only one of them works, but working and security conditions are bad, as local people say. Lots of workers have died because there aren’t any standards of production. Another moment is, of course, that this mine poisons the atmosphere. More poison comes, as one of professionals said during Global Power Shift Georgia, from the waste banks – hills of the residues of rock and coal, which lay on the ground and are spread by wind everywhere. It is a problem not just for local people’s health, but it also causes problems for the nature, because it poisons it. The coal which is produced in Tkibuli is highly polluting due to its low quality and the ways of its production aren’t good.
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So we decided to do something about it and started with a youth conference.
120 Georgians from the whole country came to Tkibuli on three days conference in December 2013, which was dedicated to the problems of climate change. Young people listened a lot about worldwide problems concerning climate change and what international organizations and movement do to solve the problem. Participants have done a lot of workshops and created different massages and posters. In the end of the conference they organized symbolical wind mill and flash mob in front of the coal mine’s building. A lot of local people joined too and in this way showed that this is real problem and asked local authorities to think about its solution.
Megi, conference participant and co-organizer, says: ‘Global Power Shift Georgia was new experience, knowledge and the way for making new friends for me. It gave me skills how to lead and taught me how to take responsibility for climate change worldwide. The most important thing about this forum was that all participants learned how to work together. We were all together and made our best to raise youth voices for better future’.
‘Young leaders are now fighting to stop climate change and to save people’s health. They are strongly motivated to stop the pollution and production of coal in Tkibuli’, says Tsiako who was among the main organizers of the conference. ‘Local population is aware too and they are informed of the impacts of coal production, first of all on their health and then on environment’.
Besides lectures, participants worked together, developing their action ideas – some wrote recommendations for the Ministry of Environment of Georgia, some created plans for Phase 3 of GPS. Other brainstormed ideas for future online campaigns, while the rest prepared messages and posters for the day of action, which followed the conference.
‘Two days passed working so hard with the highest enthusiasm of participants and on the third day there was a street action held in Tkibuli’, – Tsiako recollects. – ‘Local people were so happy because of our support. They were trying to be involved in our campaign. People acquired new confidence after our action’.
350.org have been making such actions for more than 4 years, every year a different one, and Global Power Shift is one of the new dimensions of climate change activities. Mostly 350.org-Georgia focuses on raising attention of population about problem of the climate change, increasing awareness about ecological culture and together with all community impacting the government to change their policy in this field.
‘We have not much time for it, as world climate activists say, but we are on the way of struggle and I believe together with all of the people we can do it. Georgia, as others countries, is part of the world and should do something to make it better, because climate change is a problem not just for one or two regions, it is a problem for all of us’ – says Nugzar, a long-time 350.org supporter from Georgia.
‘We have a hope to continue our campaign with Phase 3 and finish it with the result of stopping the coal production. Our actions are regularly connected with local population to build the connection between them and workers to save the future of their children and the planet’, – Tsiako adds.
Global Power Shift in Georgia goes on!
Check out more photos here.