The first step of Global Power Shift (GPS) happened last June, in Turkey, when 500 young people interested in the issue of climate change gathered with a 100 activists responsible for training these youths in policy, media and communication, digital campaigns, art and activism and nonviolent direct action.
The event was promoted by the international climate campaign 350.org, in partnership with other institutions. During the six days of training the participants proposed actions to be done on their countries, with the aim of making local people aware issues surrounding climate change.
One of the participants at GPS was Diana Maciaga, a 28-year old Polish woman. "The best of the event is the sense of community and solidarity shared by all," said Diana. "Climate change affects every people and every country despite their differences." As part of the Global Power Shift actions, the youths from Eastern Europe organized the ninth Conference of Youth (COY9), a gathering of young people in the lead-up to the UN Climate Meetings (COP19) happening this year in Warsaw, Poland.
COY9 is composed by 320 participants from 60 countries. Similar to the African continent, Latina America has a small number of representatives, including youths from Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Mexico and Puerto Rico. Coal ControversyIn Poland, approximately 95% of the energy comes from the burning of coal. According to Diana, "the government and people in general support the mines and the coal factories because they believe they guarantee energy independence from Russia, where their energy was originally bought." At the same time, Diana says that the president of the country defends investing as little as possible on renewable energy, which means only as much as is demanded by European Union (EU). This usually means just adding some substance on the coal burning to make it a little less polluting. "This is incoherence! Even though they are hosting COP19, it seems that the government is only going to adopt sustainable actions if there is strong pressure from civil society."
According to Diana, although there are some groups aware of the importance of renewable energy that have been putting pressure on the government, the majority of Polish society still associates coal with national independence. It is the same situation in Brazil with petrol and the role of Petrobras.
A huge effort launched by one of these environmental groups is the StopEP campaign, or Stop North Project, which is working against the building of a coal power plant in an ecological reserve in the north of Poland. Besides the important species of fauna and flora that habitat the region, there is also a river that is one of the latest, if not the last one in Europe, that hasn’t had its natural course changed. If built, that one power plant would emit 9.4 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere per year.
"The most controversial thing about the project is that Jan Kulczyk, the owner of the company who is going to build the power plant, the Kulczyk Investments, is one of the chairmen of Green Cross International, as well as member of Climate Change Task Force!" protests Diana. Ironically, these two initiatives aim to promote sustainability. The StopEP campaign is available on the website HYPERLINK "http://www.stopep.org" www.stopep.org, in both Polish and English. Stay tuned:Climax Brasil - The GPS Brazilian group, composed by the NGOs Viração, Renajoc, and Engaja Mundo, among others, are developing Climax Brazil, project that promotes nonviolent direct actions and communication campaigns to make the youths aware and to engage them.COY10 - Is going to happen in Peru, in December 2014, where, for sure, Latin America and its own problems are going to be better represented.CLIC - Latin American and Caribbean Movement on Climate Change has just been created in Bogota (Colombia). Its aim is to organize the youths of the region for getting their issues better represented on the COYs and COPs.
By Emilia de Mattos Merlini, from Brazilian Youth Delegation at COP19
*The Brazilian Youth Delegation at COP19 are composed by the organizations: Global Alliance of YMCAs, Engajamundo, Viração Educomunicação and The Lutheran World Federation.