By Mikhail Matveev, 350.org Communication Coordinator on East Europe, Causasus, Central Asia -March 18, 2015

Climate change is happening in our region 2.5 times faster than the global average. It brings droughts, floods, fires and smog. But there is encouraging news as well: more and more people are implementing up-to-date green solutions and creating an alternative, literally with their own hands, to the climate-wrecking fossil fuel economy and ruthless exploitation of the Earth’s resources.

To avoid a global climate change disaster, humanity must bring about a real revolution in the coming decades: reject fossil fuels, put an end to deforestation, and learn to create “green” cities with modern electric transport, a comfortable urban environment, energy-efficient houses and 100% recycling. Hardly any doubts about this are ever expressed by the majority of scientists, climatologists and economists, including the UN experts who published the Fifth Assessment Report on climate change.

But where does the revolution begin? In the climate experts’ report? At a summit in Paris scheduled for the end of this year? In the first ever solar energy-driven flight around the globe? At a half a million-strong march that flooded the streets in fall 2014?

All of these are of course very important. But the real changes will only take place when average people feel that the new green lifestyle is a real change for the better around us rather than just another load of fancy talk from another leader. Real change that can be looked at, touched and enjoyed here and now. Change we can grow used to and begin to see as an integral part of our everyday lives.

Enabling people to touch the future green world is the principal task of the projects completed within the framework of the Climate Workroom program last year by activists from the region’s countries with the support of  350.org.

Some detail on what has been done so far:

Thanks to the Climate Workroom and The Little Earth organization from Tajikistan, dwellers in the alpine Pamir discovered that there is no need to cut trees for heating; a solar thermal collector will provide free energy and the trees can keep growing and helping to preserve the climate from warming and the highlanders from deadly mudflows.

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Installation of a sun heater in the village of Nisur (courtesy Little Earth)

The Life without Sockets project participants proved that green energy helps survival, even in the Siberian taiga.

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A solar hut in Altai, Siberia  (courtesy Life without Sockets)

But the Climate Workroom is not just about  remote areas. In Kutaisi (Georgia), the Workroom’s participants helped an orphanage to become energy efficient by using up-to date LED bulbs. It turned out that the new lighting not only saves energy, but also helps grow greenery and vegetables that are richer in vitamins, even during the winter. And they are now looking forward to switching to clean solar panel energy.

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The Kutaisi team (courtesy Dialogue of Generations)

The people of Dnipropetrovsk (Ukraine) found inspiration in a similar idea but they decided to build an entire energy-efficient house that would receive a maximum of its necessary energy from the sun. The activist-driven Ecoloft is planned to become the home of the city’s entire environmentalist movement.

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The Ecoloft project is nearing completion (courtesy EcoDnepr)

In Lviv (Ukraine), local activists decided to combine a street exercise bike and a cell phone charging point. It is healthy while your phone feeds from your energy rather literally.

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Cycling charger for mobiles in Lviv (courtesy Umka-Zapad)

This is how the Climate Workroom was judged by its participants:

“The workroom activities are interesting. For me personally, it was a good incentive to research and write in the field of alternative energy. I collected more material than expected. And I want to continue sharing all this stuff”

  • -Aleksandr Ivanov, Life without Sockets project, Russia

“Don’t listen to skeptics, don’t wonder if you’ve done enough, just do it! Even your insignificant green projects can become an essential link in a large-scale change and inspire others! The first stage of the Climate Workroom is a proper foundation, so let’s keep building a solid and steady common home on it!”

  • -Natalya Idrisova, The Little Earth, Tajikistan

“The Project had an important role … first of all, it helped form a team, involve new interesting folks in the work of 350.org and make this project happen. During the course of the project, the teams wrote blog posts, which allowed us to tell our stories to a wide audience, while the teams could delve into the ideas they generated. The project must be continued, because only through its systematic implementation can a great effect be achieved.

At this stage, the Climate Workroom did what it had to do; it attracted interesting people and raised interest in 350.org, and the continuing work will enable us not only to solidify these achievements but also to have an impact on the environmental situation towards improvement”

  • -Nugzar Kokhreidze, Academic and intellectual club Dialogue of Generations (RICDOG), Kutaisi, Georgia

“Moving towards a new, eco-friendly society model is not just perfectly possible. It is already happening everywhere. We can ensure it by ourselves and demand the same from the authorities”

-Yuliya Makliuk, the Climate Workroom coordinator on behalf of 350.org, Kyiv, Ukraine

The past year’s experience has shown that, in spite of the limited resources and restive politics in the region, we can bring the world of green ideas and green technologies a little closer to the people. This means that the work of the Climate Workroom will be continued this year. And there is much good news in this. First of all, the support program for the best practical projects will be extended. Secondly, it will be supplemented by thematic blog post contest on climate problems and suggested solutions. And, thirdly, the Workroom participants will be able to join an international campaign against climate change, while the most active will be able to attend the UN climate talks in Paris.

“The Climate Workroom-2015” is launched on 28 March with a contest for the projects to participate in the support program.

So please follow our updates on the web (in Russian):

www.350.org/russian

www.climateworkroom.org

https://www.facebook.com/Russian350org

https://twitter.com/Russian350org

https://vk.com/russian350org

Mikhail Matveyev and the entire 350.org team

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