In-depth | Environment

Changing by degrees

Fixing climate change won't be easy — but these Kosovars are starting somewhere.

By - 30.07.2020

Just as in previous years, in September 2019, the Mulaj family from the village of Isniq in western Kosovo was busy with their end-of-summer chores. Hasan, 40, the eldest of Mehmet and Zyka’s 10 children, was in charge of almost all the chores in the fields at the foot of the Accursed Mountains on the bank of the Lumbardh river in Deçan. 

“Around September 20, we harvest the fields, prepare the corn food for the cows, and then peel the corn and put it in the baskets for it to dry out during winter,” he says.

In the capital, on September 20, several dozen students and youngsters concerned about the future of the planet joined their peers around the world in a protest against climate change known as “Fridays for Future,” launched by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg.

One of the participants in the strike was 23-year-old Dije Rizvanolli, a civil servant who joined the march during her one-hour lunch break that sunny day. Less than a year before, she had marched with thousands of others in the rain for the same cause in the streets of Amsterdam, during her postgraduate studies in environmental and energy management.

In Prishtina, during the march from the Skanderbeg statue to the Rilindja building, students held signs calling on the government to prioritize the interests of people and the planet, while others expressed their anger at the miserable condition Earth has been brought to.

One of the placards showed the globe under a teapot — in the style of those found in the homes of the Mulaj family, and Dije’s, and in every Kosovar household — boiling with steam, thus adding a local tinge to the alarm around the climate change that is making life more difficult for people around the globe.

Smoggy Winter

Over the next few months, Prishtina — like many other cities in the region — was engulfed by suffocating smog. Despite the winter being milder (as seems to be happening year after year), chimneys and power plans continued to send up smoky plumes from the coal burned for heat.

An environmental analysis by the World Bank in 2013 found that Kosovo’s highly polluted air causes premature death, respiratory tract diseases, and a lower quality of life. Only two years later, the government signed a 1.3-billion euro contract for the construction of the Kosova e Re coal-fired power plant.K 

This is an extract from a feature story in our new HOPE print edition. To read the full article, buy your copy of the magazine now — click here for more information.

Feature image: Atdhe Mulla / K2.0.