With the climate protest held on April 22nd, Earth Day, we sent a loud and clear message to the Government that we want a green and just new deal for Croatia.
The protest was supported by musical performances of Elemental, ABOP and Choir Domaćigosti, and Drum'n'bijes collective. Numerous organisations dealing with environmental protection, human rights, refugee rights, women's rights, youth rights, animal protection etc. expressed their support for the protest because they recognised the importance and urgency of the topic of climate change and the impact it already has on all people.
"After more than a million people gathered in the streets of San Francisco in 1970 to demand the right to clean water, Earth Day remains to this day a moment when environmental and climate activism is celebrated around the world. It's the day when we proudly look back at the environmental and social movements that succeeded in fighting for environmental and climate justice. It is a day to celebrate resistance but also the positive changes we have seen in recent years, such as the transformation of our neighbourhoods, cities and entire countries into more sustainable ones. Empowering stories like the women's victory in the village of Kruščica in Bosnia & Herzegovina who laid down on the bridge because they did not want to give up the river they depended on. Or Nigerian villages and activists who won court cases against oil companies like Shell. And the stories from Istria and Dalmatia, where the population clearly said no to projects such as drilling of the Adriatic for oil or the Plomin C coal-fired power plant, are just some of the inspiring struggles for a better world", Luka Tomac, President of Zelena akcija/FoE Croatia, said at the beginning of the protest.
In her speech, Sara Kekuš, Programme Manager of the Center for Peace Studies, emphasised the climate crisis' impact on human rights. "According to the estimates of the UN agency for refugees, more than 300 million people are currently forcibly displaced in the world due to climate change, and this number increases by as many as 20 million every year. We are talking about climate apartheid, in which the consequences of climate change deepen inequalities in societies and endanger human rights and the lives of many. People who are forced to flee because of climate change are refugees! Refugees just like those fleeing wars and other types of persecution. The UN agrees with this in its recommendations, but international law doesn't catch up. Denying climate refugees access to protection is cruel and unjust and leaves people vulnerable to exploitation, discrimination and deportation. The European Union calls the people fleeing disasters and conflicts caused by the climate crisis economic and illegal migrants. No one, but no one is illegal"!
Marija Mileta, Vice President of FoE Croatia, followed up on the topic of climate refugees and conveyed the words of 35-year-old Dorotea, a refugee from Burundi who lives in Mozambique: "It was really tragic. In a matter of minutes, we did not have a home anymore. The roof collapsed just after I had taken my seven children outside to safety. It was like escaping a conflict. The children were crying; I felt very lonely and powerless. My husband left me earlier this year and there was no one I could rely on. I don't know what our future is". Mileta added: "Mozambique is a country that has been devastated by civil war, fossil fuel extraction and climate change. And Croatia, among other, imports LNG from Mozambique, a country where European corporations, under the protection of the military, evicted people from their land, leading to violent conflicts. Because of this, the local population is impoverished, women are sexually assaulted and the elite gets richer. And by using that gas, Croatia directly incites violence in countries such as Mozambique. We mustn't agree to that. We have to say - ENOUGH"!
About the enrichment of the fossil fuel industry, despite multiple crises, Mileta said: "The Russian invasion of Ukraine exposed how vulnerable our dependence on fossil fuels makes us. But the response of our Government and other European governments to the war and the energy crisis is the same extractive energy model that pushed us into this crisis. Did you know that last year alone, the five fossil fuel companies - Exxon, BP, Chevron, Shell and Total - collectively earned $200 billion? This criminal industry also profits from war and crises that are breaking over the backs of citizens"!
Climate change is a topic that especially concerns young people because the policies being made today will significantly impact their future. "For the last 4-5 years, concern for the climate and the environment has been among the top priorities for young people. This is shown by European and national research, and the voice and opinions of young people are again being ignored. Young people are not part of the discussion on the green transition, strategic documents in the field of youth need to recognise the seriousness of the situation and our ideas and wishes should be listened to. Next year is a super-election year and we expect that politicians and parties will once again talk about how young people are the future and are important to us and how everyone wants young people to stay in Croatia... At the same time, they will ask why young people do not vote? Why are they not interested? And I ask you, how many parties and politicians offer solutions to the problems of young people?! How many have proposals in their programmes for a drastic departure from the current dependence on fossil fuels?! Who among them recognises climate emergency?! Young people are not interested. They are not interested in hearing that the responsibility for the current situation is on individuals, that we will save the world by individual recycling and using the train, they are not interested in hearing about creeping changes and reforms, they are not interested in the empty stories of those who hold the ladder to the biggest polluters. We are both the present and the future and we are tired of hearing empty promises. We are telling you loud and clear there is no time to wait. There is no time for changes until 2050, young people want a turnaround now! Declare a climate emergency, end fossil fuels and start a just green transition", Josip Miličević, General Secretary of the Croatian Youth Network, said at the protest.
Everyone who spoke at the protest agreed that the fight for climate justice is also a fight for social justice. "The fight for human rights is impossible without the fight for climate and socioeconomic justice. It is up to us to fight, to be in solidarity and to demand from the rulers responsible and sustainable policies that are implemented in practice for the dignity of every woman, man, child and every being on this planet. The responsibility for the fight against climate change lies with the states and it is our responsibility to force the states in which we live to fight for planet Earth. This is and must be the struggle of all of us! And that's why we need to raise our voice, not the temperature", Kekuš said.
In conclusion, Tomac said: "The green and fair plan for Croatia must be based not only on green policies, but it must also integrate socioeconomic elements that will simultaneously contribute to the fight against various types of social inequality and poverty. The fight against climate change offers us opportunities to make our society fairer and more solidary, and life better for everyone! Our voice can be stronger than voice of those who want to maintain the status quo, leading us to ruin, but only if we unite and show them that this issue cannot be ignored".
The protest was supported by: Greenpeace in Croatia, Institute for Political Ecology, fAKTIV (feminist collective), Živi Atelje DK (Women to Women collective), Cyclists's Union” Association, Initiative Green Philosophical Faculty, Center for Peace Studies, Society for Sustainable Development Design (DOOR), Extinction Rebellion Zagreb, Youth Initiative for Human Rights, Anti-Fascist Network Zagreb, Fridays For Future Croatia, Croatian Youth Network, Are You Syrious?, Operation City, "In Good Faith" initiative and Animal Friends Croatia.
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