The project “Climate Change in Latvia – challenge and opportunity?” provides creative and diverse information about the effects of climate change on Latvian society. The project highlights five sectors that are most affected by climate change, and motivates people to help reducing climate change.
We live in a time of winters without snow, ever hotter summers, sudden rain storms and unprecedented natural disasters. The very existence of Arctic glaciers hangs in the balance, and so do the lives of plant, animal and bird species, as well as people. Our actions are changing the climate.
Are we at Climate’s End*?
The end of the year 2015 is coming near, and our planet is almost 1 whole degree Celsius warmer, compared to the average temperature recorded before the Industrial Revolution (the second half of the 19th century). The environmental damage already exceeds all scientific forecasts – one-third of the Arctic glaciers have melted, our oceans have become 30% more acidic, the atmosphere over the oceans is 5% more humid (warm air contains more warm vapor than cold water) causing extensive flooding.
This single degree already poses a large risk to our environment, and the farther the average temperate rises, the bigger the negative impacts of climate change will be. These temperature changes will also affect Latvia. Scientific observations show that ocean levels have already risen by 15 to 20 centimeters over the past century, which in turn influences the Baltic Sea coast. Environmental scientists expect the Baltic flora and fauna to change; we can likely say goodbye to skiing trips and hello to strawberries in May. In Europe we should expect more sudden and heavy rain storms. Further, climate change will alter migration patterns, as more and more people move away from droughts, floods and environmental catastrophes.
In 2009, during the Climate Summit in Copenhagen (COP15), world leaders agreed to do everything in their power to prevent the planet from heating up more than 2 degrees Celsius. And these 2 degrees will again be the hot topic at the 2015 Climate Summit (COP21) in Paris. All countries have been invited to submit their proposals to reduce their fossil fuel consumption, and thus to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and fight global warming. 147 countries have already submitted their plans, but scientists have concluded that these plans are not enough to avoid a 2 degree rise in temperature by the year 2100. Even if all developed countries will increasingly switch to renewable energy sources, the growing industrial activity in developing countries will continue to increase our global fossil fuel consumption. This is why one of the major points of negotiation in Paris will be the of financing renewable energy technologies in developing countries.
At the same time, every single on of us can already reduce their own environmental footprint and help battle global warming through:
- responsible food consumption – select seasonal, local and organically grown food; reduce food waste; eat less meat and other animal products; buy food directly from local farmers or select products with a fair trade label.
- energy efficiency – assess the energy consumption in your home and exchange big power consumers for more energy-efficient appliances.
- environmentally friendly transport – walk, ride a bike or take public transport; reduce fossil fuel consumption; select hybrid or electric vehicles.
- waste reduction, separation and recycling.
- green lifestyle – be active, do sports, follow news about climate and technological advancements, support and popularize green best practices in your neighbourhood, plant a tree.
* In Latvian, the campaign hashtag is #kliMATAgala. It is a wordplay conflating two terms; “klimata galā” (the end of the climate) and “mata galā” (a popular Latvian saying which loosely translates to “hanging by a thread”).
This project is co-financed by EEA Grants
The aim of this project is to improve the awareness and knowledge of climate change issues among Latvian citizens, as well as promoting practical ways in which people can get involved in climate change mitigation and adaptation.
The project will officially kick off with opening events in the regions of Latvia, during which we will explore society’s opinion on climate change in Latvia – whether people feel its effects and whether it is necessary to adapt to it. In order to provoke discussions we will show the documentary film CHASING ICE, which very impressively displays the effects of climate change on our planet.
To promote the society’s understanding of the process and significance of climate change, we will organise an informative campaign. Part of the campaign will be a travelling photo exhibition about the effects of climate change in Latvia which will be displayed in all of Latvia’s regions. Furthermore, by conducting asocial experiment we will determine whether climate change is influenced by the actions of each individual, in what scale, and what we can do to help. The campaign will be complemented by environmental ads, TV and radio broadcasts, as well as written publications.
Climate change affects us all, regardless of whether we believe or don’t believe in it. The largest part of these processes are irreversible and their effects will be felt in the long-term. Therefore it is important that youths know about climate change, and – even more importantly – how to react to it. Therefore, we will organise trainings for pupils in the 8th to 12th grade, making use of participative non-formal education methods. These trainings are meant to complement the existing knowledge and skills gained in traditional educational and will increase pupils’ interest in concrete environmental topics. We will also develop digital tools, which will be an instrument for strengthening the understanding of climate change and its effects.
Climate change is a very complex issue. This is why it is such a big challenge to discuss the issue in public, present scientific research to the public and to convince society and individuals to change their behaviour. Together with the Norwegian environmental organisation GRID-Ardenal, we will organise an environmental communication seminar for public relations students and young journalists.
Project duration: 16 March 2015 – 30 April 2016
Project budget: 170 809 EUR, of which 90% (153 728 EUR) is provided by the European Economic Area (EEA Grants).
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The project is co-financed by EEA Grants.
GRID-Arendal is a centre collaborating with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), supporting informed decision making and awareness-raising.
Within this project, GRID-Arendal is involved in organizing the communication seminar for students, as well as providing expertise and support for the project’s final conference.
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