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Climate Policy Environment 9 April, 2019 10:00 am   

Jakóbik: It is Time for the Round Table on Climate 

After the Youth Climate Strike from March 15, another one is coming. What is the purpose of the next protest? The roundtable with participation of youths, experts and politicians would definitely do the discussion about climate changes good, writes Wojciech Jakóbik, editor-in-chief of BiznesAlert.pl.

– We need immediate actions to build better future for our generation. We believe that we can achieve this only through constant reminding – that is why we will not go to school again on April 12. Once again, we will go to the streets to show everyone that we are not passive about the climate and we are ready to fight for our future, said Izabela Stelmaszewska one of the organizers of the protest in Warsaw.

– The strike from March 15 was carried out all over the world (in over 75 countries) and it was the initiative of the Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, but we intend to conduct the closest one on April 12 only in Warsaw. We cannot estimate exactly how many of us participated in the March protest, but we assess that about 10,000 people. Due to the secondary school exams, we predict a slightly lower attendance at the next strike – explains Stelmaszewska. She also announces that the event will be suited to the exams so that secondary schools students can also come.

Young people rake up protest through social media. They do not have organized structure and they base their activity on smaller regional circles that cooperate with a group that meets every sunday in Warsaw to discuss next steps. When asked about relationships with non-governmental organizations, such as Greenpeace or WWF, they categorically deny it. – We do not have any adult in the organization (the oldest are students), neither any hierarchical structure. We are a non-party organization, emphasizes Stelmaszewska. She admits that Greenpeace Polska created events regarding the strike on Facebook, but it was their independent action, which was not accompanied by the Youth Climate Strike actions.

Now an invitation to another protest can be found in the Internet: The Spring Climate March is scheduled for April 27. The politicians of the Robert Biedroń Spring party have already signed up for this event. This means that young people are faced with the threat of employing their bottom-up initiative for political purposes, and the Polish capital will be affected by communication paralysis caused by protests.

The best defence of the independence of youth’s movement would be the instantiation of the postulates, which for the time being are vague. 

The march organizers asked BiznesAlert.pl to publicize the event. They argue that they wanted to talk about their postulates with the Ministry of Energy, but they were only given acknowledgement for the first strike without the meeting offer. The spokeswoman of the Ministry of Energy, Joanna Borecka-Hajduk, denies that, arguing that she is opened to the meeting, but the discussion is constricted by too wide range of issues raised by youths. 

She points out that some of the postulates, especially those regarding changes in the education model in order to increase the amount of classes about climate policy fall outside the scope of competences of the Ministry.

Youths demand “real political decisions”. What exactly? – As the Youth Climate Strike, we demand the adoption of the IPCC report as a basis for political activities, because as I have already mentioned, we do not feel competent to indicate specific actions to politicians, and the report was developed by professionals who deal with climate issues, i.e. scientists – explains Stelmaszewska.

The IPCC report shows the necessity to accelerate the decarbonisation of the economy in order to maintain the global temperature increase below 2 degrees Celsius. It was the foundation of the climate agreement from Paris, signed by Poland. The government can therefore easily reject the arguments of youths. The problem is that the document is not binding as it does not includes any sanctions and gives freedom of implementation of its postulates to politicians. I suggested to the protesters that they should appeal for the presentation of the Polish energy strategy as soon as it possible, which would determine how the energy mix of the country will have changed until 2040. It is already known that this is going to happen at the European Economic Congress in Katowice in May. Perhaps young people should define what changes in the strategy they expect. The project assumes a coal share in energy production at 60 percent by 2040.

In addition to that, we do not want another public speech by Polish President Andrzej Duda where he will claim that we do not know what actually produces climate change, although scientists have no doubt that it is caused by human activity, says Iza Stelmaszewska. This postulate, together with the appeal for the development of climate education in Poland, should be sent to the entire political class, experts and the Ministry of Culture and National Education. Upgrading the public debate on climate change is up to each of its participant, but the ministry dealing with education could propose solutions that will help to promote knowledge about this topic in schools.

Youths want to be heard. Perhaps the dialogue with them will also help the youths to understand the energy policy of the government and the European Union, and thus to specify – for now – very general demands. It seems that the best way to start a dialogue would be a talk between Youth Climate Strike representatives and energy industry, experts and the government. That is why I propose to organize the Round Table for the Climate, which our editorial office is happy to co-organize. Perhaps it would be a step towards more substantive discussion. We also have to answer the question not “whether” but “how” to protect the climate better. 



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