Onwards in Kosovo
The following letter was sent in by our close ally, Nezir Sinani, in Prishtina, Kosovo working with a coalition of groups to lead the fight for alternatives to coal in Kosovo.
It is with great delight that I write this post. I write to thank the 350 international network for standing together with our communities here in Kosovo, and for everyone who signed the online petition at 350.org to the World Bank, The US Embassy in Kosovo and to the Kosovan Parliament to oppose a proposed lignite coal power plant. (It’s not too late to send your support if you haven’t already. Sign here: www.350.org/kosovo).
My name is Nezir Sinani, and I am a Kosovan activist working with the Institute for Development Policy, based in Prishtina, Kosovo’s capital. In fact, it was just a few years ago that I was working for the state-owned power company. I often served as a representative to the media describing the frequent power outages that plague our country. Over time, I came to learn about more than just the inconveniences of our energy infrastructure -- I learned about the damages to our country’s health, environment, and our global climate. Eventually, I couldn’t continue to be involved in the continuation of our coal-based energy system, and I began to search for ways for our country to move beyond coal.
At the same time, our government, in collaboration with the United States State Department and World Bank, began a process to try and build a new coal plant here. In response, a number of groups in Kosovo and internationally, including my organization, who believed that alternatives to coal were possible joined together to explore the alternatives to coal. What we discovered is that the alternatives aren’t only possible, but they are faster, stronger, and cheaper options for ensuring a secure energy future for our country, not to mention cleaner and safer for our health and climate. If you’re interested in the details you can download the most recent and most definitive report by Dr. Daniel Kammen of the University of California Berkeley here.
Just last week we were joined by Dr. Kammen here in Prishtina, and we held meetings with the Head of Parliament in Kosovo, the Ministry for Economic Development, the World Bank, and others to make the case for investing in alternatives not in coal. And let me tell you, your support is having an impact on these meetings as well. The media in Kosovo has picked up on the news of international activists around the world joining in against the proposed coal plant here, and the institutions pushing for the coal plant are increasingly aware that their actions are being held accountable not just by those of us here on the ground, but by an international movement.
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Perhaps the greatest sign of progress to date came from the meeting with our head of parliament. In that meeting he agreed that it was time for parliament to reconsider our energy policy, which currently is an out-dated policy based almost entirely on coal. Now we’ll begin to look at alternatives in earnest. That’s a huge step forward, but sadly the current coal plant proposal puts at risk any real progress we might have in re-thinking that policy.
Unfortunately, an “expert panel” at the World Bank just released a crucial internal report on Wednesday announcing their recommendation to the World Bank directors to proceed with the proposed coal plant. No doubt, that report makes our efforts far harder than they were just one week before. But in no way does it diminish our resolve to achieve an energy future for Kosovo that moves beyond coal. It’s a tremendous boost to us to know that at the same time that the “expert panel” report was released, nearly 6,000 messages from 120 countries were also delivered to the World Bank directors via 350.org standing in solidarity with those of us on the ground fighting for clean energy solutions.
Rest assured, the movement will charge ahead here in Kosovo. We have protests planned for this weekend (weather permitting -- we’re possibly expecting our second blizzard in two weeks!), and we charge ahead with increased strength thanks to all of you who stand together with our struggle.
Oh, and we should hopefully have fresh action photos to share in the days and weeks ahead, but for now we thought you might enjoy seeing a few of our faces behind the work here in Kosovo. The photo to the right is from our Moving Planet cycle mobilization this past September and you can see more on Facebook here.
A big thanks to all again, and on we go.