Еко style
Eco-activists:
those who lead
politicians to save the planet
SunTimes continues meeting foundations and activist groups that invest a lot of time and resources in saving the world from the catastrophic effects of climate change.



Oksana Aliieva tells about the Heinrich Böll Foundation
What is the situation with the environment in Ukraine today?

To my mind, the state of the environment is gradually deteriorating in Ukraine. First of all, this stems from the fact that even given the environmental legislation that is progressive enough, the mechanisms of its implementation and compliance are extremely weak. Many good environmental initiatives remain ink on paper. For instance, in the waste management sector, since January 1, 2018, the separate waste collection was introduced in Ukraine according to the law; however, we all see that it does not work in reality. And this is true for all sectors.

Another vivid example is the emission reduction. The National Plan to reduce emissions from large combustion plants was adopted back in 2017, but it has not been implemented yet. However, its implementation would let people breathe cleaner air. In particular, this plan envisages a reduction in emissions of the suspended particles – dust, the very particles that cause smog, which we regularly observe in Kyiv. The situation with the greenhouse gas emission (it is greenhouse gas that causes global warming and climate change). Here, even a goal to reduce its emissions does not exist as yet.

Power generation is one of the most environmentally unfriendly industries. It accounts for about 65- 67% of greenhouse gas emissions (according to the National Emissions Inventory, 2017). While officials and experts think about how to deal with it, transformation processes already take place in reaction to global trends, as we are part of the global world. Renewable energy is developing. When the investment climate was stable, this was a sector that actively involved both international and domestic investments. Today, due to many uncertainties – a change in the feed-in tariff for existing RES energy producers, the transition to the auctions, lack of a clear program to support distributed generation – this sector is at risk to slow down its growth rate. But this is unacceptable if we wish to resist climate change and reduce emissions in the power generation sector.

About Heinrich Böll Foundation and its projects

At Heinrich Böll Foundation we work actively to make the green energy transfer happen in Ukraine. Our office in Ukraine implements a separate program called the Climate Change and Energy Policies. Its goals include promoting ambitious climate change policies, making public discourse in the question of the equitable energy transition to renewable energy sources, and the issue of women's rights in the energy sector, supporting the environmental social movement.
In particular, in 2017, together with the Institute for Economics and Forecasting of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, the Foundation was the first organization that believed that Ukraine could transit to almost 100% renewable energy by 2050 and proved it through modeling. We actively work to promote socially equitable energy transition both in public and in political discourse. We support public organizations that share this vision and also work with communities that decided to steer their way to a clean future with renewable energy. The Foundation is also actively involved in the reformation process in the energy sector and it monitors compliance with requirements to engage the general public in the executive decision-making in those issues.

Results

Among the main achievements of the program, one can mention the level of influence of civil society on decision-making in the field of environmental and climate protection, as well as broader support of green energy.
How can one join?
For more information about activities of Heinrich Böll Foundation Regional Office in Ukraine, please visit https://ua.boell.org/ or contact Oksana Aliieva, Climate Change and Energy Policies Program Coordinator, at[email protected]

Oleksandra Khmarna tells about the Center for Environmental Initiatives Ecoaction
What is the situation with the environment and RES in Ukraine today?

Due to fossil fuel combustion in all sectors, the power generation sector is the primary source of greenhouse gas emissions in Ukraine. Moreover, out of the ten largest air polluters, four are the facilities of the coal- fired power industry. That is why these problems should be solved by abandoning fossil fuels and transition to renewable power generation.

Scientists from the Institute for Economics and Forecasting proved the feasibility and economic expediency of the transition to 91% RES by 2050 in Ukraine. Besides, independent experts have recently calculated that we can even achieve a full transition to RES the same year. This is what scientists from the Intergovernmental Climate Change Expert Group demand to slow down the climate crisis and prevent the critical rise in temperature. Almost 14,000 Ukrainians signed an appeal about the transition to 100% RES, and 2000 people joined the climate march with the same call in September 2019.

At the same time, the Concept of the Green Transition by 2050 plans to achieve a portion of 70% in the electricity generation only. This goal is insufficient to reach the global goal: a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. This concept outlines the direction for the Ukrainian energy sector to move. It is developed basing on scientific, mathematical economic models and may be revisited if the external conditions, for instance, technology costs, change. With time, the Ministry plans to develop strategic documents that will be in accord with this concept. In particular, the Integrated Plan on Energy Industry and Climate Action.

About Ecoaction

The Center for Environmental Initiatives Ecoaction is a non-governmental organization that, since 2017, brings together experts and activists to act for environmental protection by influencing the decision-making and developing the active community. We are 30 members, 25 staff, over 150 volunteers, and 1,300 supporters; we are a Ukrainian community that cares and shares the values of environmental awareness, consistency and results-oriented mindset, unity for concerted actions, independence, and non-violence.

We work to counter climate change and make the economy greener, in particular, on climate policy, for the equitable transition to clean energy, to abandon coal and
nuclear generation, reduced transportation emissions, and reduced water and air pollution by the industry, including agriculture. We also work together with other organizations and join Ukrainian and international networks. In particular, we participate in the Land Matrix Initiative that monitors sale and lease of agricultural lands, and in the CEE Bankwatch network that monitors activities of the international financial institutions, such as the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development or the European Investment Bank, and gives coverage to the projects they fund that may be potentially harmful to the society.

About Ecoaction's projects and outcomes
The campaign to abandon completion of units 3 and 4 of the Khmelnitsky Nuclear Power Plant
During 2018, we were actively telling about the risks of completing this project: the construction of these units started back in the 1980s, the facilities are already worn- out and obsolete. Moreover, the units would have to use reactors manufactured by a Russia-controlled company. Besides, any new nuclear unit means expensive construction and risks of additional accidents. We and our supporters, in particular, submitted our comments to this project's environmental impact assessment report; we have also actively collaborated with the government by conveying the information on risks to it. At the moment, no project completion is planned, and we continue working for Ukraine to abandon dangerous nuclear generation – in particular, to shut down and decommission those units that are past their design service life – there are 11 such units out of 15 in Ukraine.
The campaign to transit to 100% renewable energy sources
In 2019, we were telling the public about the advantages and the need to transfer to clean energy. Together with Energy Transition Coalition, we launched a call for the transit to 100% renewable energy sources in Ukraine by 2050, which has already been signed by more than 14,000 people. Recently, we got together with the Coalition and voiced the appeal to transit to 100% RES at the photo action: it was the call with 14 thousand names of people who supported it. We handed this appeal to the representatives of the Ministry. Now we continue working with the government, urging it to listen to the opinion of the society and set more ambitious goals that will help Ukraine protect citizens' health and safe environment.

Equitable transformation of the coal regions

The transfer to clean energy calls not only for decarbonization but also for ensuring opportunities for economic and social development in the regions that can be affected by this process and lose their primary source of income. This process is called a fair transformation. It cannot be imposed from the top, but instead developed in cooperation with the local citizens, business, and bodies of local self-governance. Indeed, they know better what their cities and villages need. Being aware of the possibility of the closing of the facilities, leaders of six mining cities of Donetsk region signed a Memorandum on Cooperation and established a Sustainable Development Platform. Now they work together to develop their region, pursue new ways to address challenges faced by the mining cities, and design projects that are safe and beneficial for the people and the environment. And we, on our part, help and support them on this path. Earlier, we have also studied the transformation in Germany, Romania, and the Czech Republic. Having studied the diverse experience, we developed recommendations that will help make this process really fair.
The climate campaign
We actively promote decisions that will help Ukraine to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, tell the public about problems and threats caused by climate change. Early in 2019, we studied how an increase in the sea level caused by this problem will affect the southern regions of Ukraine. As a result, we developed an interactive map showing the flooded area. We also found out that 590 settlements across over a million hectares of land are located in the zone that will be entirely or partially flooded. This situation may result in the emergence of 75,000 climate migrants before the end of the century. In September, we, together with nine partner organizations, conducted the most massive climate march in Ukraine so far, where we announced, in particular, a demand to stop using fossil fuels and transit to 100% renewable energy. The action brought together almost 2,000 people from all over Ukraine. And already early in 2020, we, along with experts from different areas, created the Road Map for Ukraine's Climate Goals till 2030. There, based on the available documents and studies, we described goals that our country should achieve in five sectors to reduce greenhouse gas emissions sufficiently and reduce our country's contribution to the global climate crisis.
How to join
You can support Ecoaction – subscribe to its digest, make a donation or become a volunteer: ecoaction.org.ua/doluchytys.

About the Earth Day Ukraine

Maryna Bai, Project Coordinator, tells about Earth Day Ukraine
What is the situation with environment in Ukraine now?

Despite a large number of active citizens, organizations, volunteers, and caring people, the environmental situation is deteriorating. There is a huge problem with waste: unauthorized dumping grounds that are not equipped with filters, lack of the nation-wide infrastructure for waste sorting and recycling. There is also a problem of the communication gap, and people continue to burn waste, thus jeopardizing not only the environment, but their own health and health of their friends and relatives. On top of that, there is no sound state regulation of the two above mentioned factors.

About the Earth Day Ukraine

The Earth Day Ukraine is a Ukraine-wide platform whose goal is to bring together non-governmental and international organizations, businesses, media, representatives of the government, and volunteers to work together, foster environmentally-centered behavior in Ukraine and create leverages over the state structures.
The Earth Day Ukraine projects

Our projects are called to address two main problems that every day worsen the environmental situation in Ukraine.


The Great Global Cleanup is a global volunteer movement to clean up the planet from the trash. On the global level, its organization is taken care of by the international Earth Day Network, which this year will celebrate the 50th anniversary of its activity. A goal of the project is to clean up trash that litters the environment: forests, river banks and lakeshores, beaches, and parks. It is not just a visual problem. Plastic that remains exposed to open air and sun for years pollutes subsoil waters with toxins, which then spread for many kilometers from unauthorized dumpsites. This creates direct danger for the living creatures and contributes to heating our planet, thus exacerbating the environmental crisis.

A goal of the Great Global Cleanup in Ukraine is to clean up as much rubbish as possible and help small communities establish the local infrastructure for waste sorting.
The great cleanup is planned for September 16, 2020. We call upon both volunteers and businesses, whom we will help organize a corporative cleanup, to join.
The second project of the Earth Day Network, which we organize in Ukraine, is educational programs. Ukrainians are no indifferent to the environment; they care about clean air and water. However, a lack of information prevents them from changing their environmentally- unfriendly behavior. Our webinars and videos should help them to understand why it is dangerous to burn grass and waste, how and why we should sort waste, why we should strive to Zero Waste to produce less trash. We believe that information can change a lot.

How to join the Earth Day Ukraine projects?
To join the all-Ukrainian cleanup, please visit the web site of the Earth Day Ukraine or complete a form on our Facebook Page. The educational programs are available on our web site. We encourage large businesses and brands to join, as their influence through marketing companies on the end user cannot be underestimated. We encourage local companies to participate because often communities that are able to change whole cities form around them. Each volunteer matters to us, because people with an active attitude are able to change the world. On cooperation, people contact Project [email protected]

About the outcomes

In the frame of the platform, we conducted a panel discussion on "The Sustainable Development of Companies. Ways to Address Waste Problems as the First Step towards the Circular Economy." We managed to bring together all key stakeholders at one table for sincere dialogue and, sometimes, hard-hitting questions. A networking opportunity after the event is a small but essential step towards a common understanding. Hundreds of volunteers have already registered for the Great Global Cleanup project from all over Ukraine. These are not only active citizens, but also organizations, libraries, educational institutions, and companies that want to help Ukraine get rid of waste.