Kyiv, August 7, 2014. Ukraine is one of the most energy intensive countries in the world, and this puts both Ukraine’s economy and national security at risk. Approximately 40 percent of Ukraine’s energy needs are supplied from abroad, including from the Russian Federation, which is problematic because of Russian aggression against Ukraine. This was stated by Polina Bashkina, a coordinator for the civil initiative Energy Evolution.UA, and Artur Denysenko, an expert at the National Ecological Centre of Ukraine during their press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. Fortunately, a combination of private initiatives and government reforms can reduce Ukraine’s energy dependence and put the country on the path towards energy independence, claimed the experts.
Energy Evolution.UA, in conjunction with the National Ecological Centre of Ukraine, is launching a civil initiative to inform residents of Ukraine on ways to reduce everyday energy consumption and recommend specific reforms for the government. In their opinion, wasted energy is money in the pocket of the Russian aggressor. “As patriots we wanted to do something for Ukraine, say that we are independent, and not pay our aggressor money,” said Bashkina. The civil initiative launches information and marketing campaigns to inform Ukrainians on simple ways to reduce personal energy use, and how inefficient energy use benefits Russia at the expense of Ukraine.
The organization has created several informational films about Ukraine’s energy dependence and ways to reduce consumption. One of the videos shows how Ukrainian energy inefficiency finances Gazprom and the Russian war machine. Another video humorously compares taking long showers to the famous shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. Energy Evolution.UA has also created posters that demonstrate ways in which people can reduce their personal energy use at home and elsewhere. For example, simply turning off the tap while someone brushes their teeth can save about 150 hryvnia every year. Additional steps to reduce energy consumption include insulating and replacing old windows and installing heat monitors in every home. Bashkina and Denysenko hope that people will put these posters in their homes and in public locations such as schools.
In addition to changing attitudes toward energy consumption at the personal level, Bashkina and Denysenko say that extensive government reforms are also necessary. “For more than ten years our government has said something needs to be done about our energy dependence, and reduce our foreign dependence,” said Bashkina. Bureaucratic red tape and corruption have undone these efforts. Energy Evolution.UA has laid out a ten step reform plan for Ukraine’s energy independence. These reforms include reducing subsidies and raising energy prices to sustainable levels, creating a single government authority charged with improving energy efficiency, and adopting laws about energy efficiency in municipal buildings. Although some of these reforms might be difficult for Ukrainians in the short term, such as raising energy prices, Bashkina says that this is an opportunity to “re-orient our economy” and save money in the long term.
Energy Evolution.UA and the National Ecological Centre of Ukraine stress that Ukrainian energy independence requires both private and public efforts. The goal of Ukraine’s energy independence is not a difficult as many might suppose, and they invite every common citizen to join their cause and participate in the organization. The ultimate goal is for their ideas to go viral and influence as many Ukrainians as possible. “This is not just our project, this is our common project,” Bashkina said.