My friends Olga, Arthur and I reflect on how recent mass pro-European demonstrations in Ukraine and our participation in them make sense for climate movement.
Olga: Yesterday, just like the day before, I went to #Euromaidan in Kyiv – a square, where thousands of people strike against president Yanukovych’s decision to suspend European Association progress. I met my friends, had tea with candies, made some pictures and listened to the uprising Ukrainian rap singers. #Euromaidan was the first place where I arrived after #COP19 conference in Warsaw. The feeling that I had during the climate march and walkout in Warsaw have risen inside me again. Since Orange Revolution I remember this buzz in a crowd full of smiling people who believe in changes. Well, looks like I’m an addict. I have big doubts that European Association will bring Ukraine manna from heaven. Though I know for sure that if someone imprisoned anyone from my organisation because of a peaceful action – as it happened with the Arctic 30 and Russian government, I would tear out their heart and eat it. Civic society culture is growing in my own eyes in Ukraine today. I am here for the people who share their dreams and stand for them until the end. The press-release below summarises what young Ukrainian environmentalists dream about as they stand in the cold November rain.
Photo: Thousands started to gather at Maidan Nezalezhnosti in Kyiv last Thursday to protest President’s decision so suspend association with the EU
Activists of Ukrainian climate movement support the free expression on popular will of Ukrainian people at Euromaidan. We have no illusion that association with the EU would solve all the problems in Ukraine. But for us the strike at Euromaidan is an opportunity to declare our vision of Ukrainian future and to step away from fossil fuel energy and environmental injustice. People power, supremacy of law and high environmental standards are the European direction we are standing for here and now, with thousands of Ukrainian people. Only together we can develop progressive civic society, strong enough to fight social injustice and climate change.
Direct democracy is a way to progressive society
Massive mobilisation of Ukrainian people at Maidan shows that we are ready to take responsibility for our country. We want to imply the changes, crucial for our future. We are the brightest demonstration of the fact that self organizing and direct participation in decision-making, including environmental issues, is an integral right of every person.
European approaches and values are not new for us. Apparently, Ukrainian youth climate movement, a drop in the ocean of civic movements in Ukraine, works closely with European partner organisations together for many years. In November 2013 Ukrainian youth took an active part in UNFCCC conference COP19 in Warsaw. Together with European colleagues we tracked the negotiations, protested against fossil fuel corporations and fought for our rights for clean air and secure future. For us, European values and approaches – respect, consensus, justice, transparency and direct participation – are basic elements of a mature society. We see all of these things being realized at Euromaidan, and we demand this for all the socially important decisions made by Ukrainian government.
Global environmental problems are our responsibility
In times of global challenges such as climate change and human rights abuse, we cannot limit our thinking by territorial belonging. Today Ukraine cannot afford wasting natural resources and recklessly ignoring the consequences for the planet and people – Ukrainians or other nations or species. The arrest of 30 Greenpeace activists at “Prirazlomnaya” platform and lack of commitment at climate negotiations showed that the issues of safe environment and citizens’ rights for peaceful protest are not a priority for the Russian government. At the same time, the EU is considered to be one of the world leaders in addressing the climate crisis through progressive climate policy in many States, public involvement in politics and responsible attitude to the environment. A direction towards Europe would mean that Ukraine will have additional control over addressing local environmental issues, and will be actively involved into common work on solving global environmental challenges.
Help Ukrainians to stand for their choice
Video: Demonstrators in Kiev send message to Ukrainian president in Vilnius
‘We, representatives of environmental communities, know perfectly well what is corruption and non-transparency of authorities, lack of working legislation and access to justice in the sphere of environmental protection. It will take many years for Ukraine to recover from Chornobyl disaster while general level of environmental decline in Ukraine is catastrophic.
We demand that the President of Ukraine signs the Association Agreement on the summit in Vilnius. We also ask environmental NGOs and communities to do everything possible to help Ukraine realize its Eurointegration aspirations and become a dignified member of the European community’, – writes Ukrainian NGO ‘Environment – People – Law’ on their web-site.
You can let Ukrainian people know about your support by sharing this or other articles with the hash-tags #euromaidan #євромайдан.
Olga Monchak, head of UYCA – Ukrainian Youth Climate Association
Yuliya Makliuk – Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia Coordinator, 350.org
Arthur Denysenko – Energy program Coordinator, National Environmental Center of Ukraine