Three young delegates in Poznan, from our Solar Generation team, have written about their experiences in Poznan and visiting the Climate Rescue Station in Konin (from left to right in the image above: Andrea, Leah and Asia)
By Leah, from the South Pacific Islands
While world leaders continued their discussions in Poznan to decide on measures to reduce global emissions, less than two hours away in Konin, plans are in place to expand an enormous coal mine. Out of all fossil fuels, coal burning contributes the most to climate change.
Along with Andrea from Canada and Asia from Poland, I joined a trip to Konin to witness the destruction caused by the coal mine and the massive coal fired power station nearby. At the power station, in the freezing cold, our activists had locked onto the plant, blocking a chimney and calling on "the powers that be" to bring an end to this crime and save our climate. Our Climate Rescue Station nearby is run on renewable energy, showcasing that it is possible to switch to clean energy that doesn't harm our fragile planet.
The mine at Konin is vast, and could very easily accommodate about ten of our small islands in the Pacific. If authorities here don't step in and stop this, I fear that our fight to keep global temperature increase in check will be all the more difficult. Hopefully, our leaders at this meeting realize how important their position is and that they need to commit to reductions now for the benefit of the entire world.
By Asia, from Poland.
After visiting the Climate Rescue Station in Konin. We went to power plant where there was a Greenpeace action going on. As we got closer to the plant we could see a big Greenpeace banner on the power plant’s chimney saying “coal - don’t burn our future”. Once we got out of the car we met with Pawel, Greenpeace activist, who told us that there were still five activists on the chimney. It appeared that more Polish speakers were needed to translate conversations between journalists and local citizens. So surprisingly I became a translator.
Firstly we talked to the leader of the local opposition to the power plant. He told us about the mines effects on the local environment and how local citizens started organising opposition. Later I went with Magdalena Zowsik - Polish climate campaigner - to Tomislawice village to meet with the Mayor and a local farmer. Tomislawice village will be destroyed if the mine is expanded. At the village we saw the primary school, the old cemetery and the church. I was shocked when I realised that this all is supposed to disappear because of the proposed mine expansion. The mayor told us that because of the expansion 500 people will have to move somewhere else and leave their homes. He also told us the history of his land. His grandfather used to serve in the Polish military unit abroad during the second war. After the war finished he decided to come back to Poland and buy 5 hectares of land and start running his own farm. After he retired he gave it to his son, who added some more land and then gave it his son. Now Tomislawice’s Mayor has inherited 23 hectares of land which he was planning to give to his middle son, who is studying to become a farmer. The Mayor assured us very strongly that he is not going to sell his land and if the power plant wants it they will have to evict him, as this land is priceless to him.
After all those conversations we finally headed back to Poznan. But first we brought Magdalena back to the Climate Rescue Station. The earth globe lit up in the dark looked really breathtaking.
By Andrea, from Canada
Yesterday I visited the Climate Rescue Station in Konin, almost two hours outside of Poznan. The Rescue Station is a four-storey planet earth, run entirely on renewable energy. It serves as a metaphor for the world on the edge, and at the same time as example of how clean, renewable energy can be harnessed.
As we drove up to it the first thing I noticed was the Greenpeace flag waving in the wind. I couldn't help but feel incredible loyalty and pride when I saw it. My Solar Generation teammates agreed. After we explored the inside of the climate rescue station we walked around the site. The climate rescue station sits at the edge of an infant coal mine. This being said the mine is still very large. It was hard for us to speak as we stood at the edge of the mine – the destruction is breathtaking.
I couldn't help but think about an anti-wind turbine campaigner I'd see in a film earlier this week. She said she couldn't stand to have a "hideous eyesore" in her back yard. She would prefer a giant chasm in the earth over a wind turbine? This logic seems slightly flawed to me. Maybe if the coal mine were in her back yard. Maybe if she had to breath in the smoke from the near by power plant, or drink the lifeless water. Maybe she would feel differently.
The climate rescue station is a beautifully accurate metaphor for the state of our planet. We sit perched at the edge of our own destruction – looking down, trying to avoid falling into a hole we won't be able to climb out of. At the same time, it serves as an example of the glorious possibility of a renewable energy future. Hopefully the world will heed the Greenpeace example.
Solar Generation Message
Speech By Leah Wickham from the Pacific Islands
At the opening of the Climate Rescue Station in Poznan
8 December 2008
My name is Leah Wickham and I am a youth delegate representing the South Pacific Islands.
I am a member of Solar Generation, a group of youth from all over the world who are taking action against climate change by pushing for real solutions such as renewable energy and energy efficiency.
I am here in Poznan to speak out because the very existence of the South Pacific islands is at risk due to sea-level rise.
During the first week of this conference, political leaders were busy paying lip service and have not demonstrated political will to fast track negotiations. Now is the time to get serious about climate action. The longer governments take to act, the more difficult it is to ensure the world’s survival.
My fellow youth and the future generation will bear the brunt of climate impacts if governments around the world do not get serious and take immediate steps to reduce greenhouse emissions. But this reality does not stop the youth from taking action --- now it’s your chance to take leadership and accept this responsibility.
Although the Pacific islands are responsible for less than .1 percent of annual global emissions, my home is at the front-line of climate change impacts. People from the Pacific and her small island states are victims of climate change brought about by massive emissions from developed countries. We are at risk of losing the islands we call home, our culture and our identity if this meeting does not move forward.
Australia, New Zealand and the United States have a lot of influence in the Pacific and are traditionally big brothers. They, along with other developed countries at this meeting must indicate that they are prepared to negotiate strong targets in emission reduction to ensure that global mean temperature is kept as far below 2 degrees Centigrade as possible. If they fail to do so, they will literally be signing the death warrants of South Pacific islanders. These Governments cannot go to sleep night after night knowing that we will drown.
This might be your meeting, but the Pacific Islands is my home.
In the end, Climate change does not discriminate. It is not just the Pacific islands who are at risk but our planet.