Fijian youths part of global ‘Power Up’ renewable energy revolution

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Fijian climate activist Gabriel Veigaunavinaka, 20, addresses his peers from across the Pacific outside the Whitehaven Tarrawonga coal mine. Picture EREMASI ROVA/350 PACIFIC

More than 50 Pacific Climate Warriors from 350.org gathered outside Whitehaven Tarrawonga coal mine in Australia on Sunday, joining hundreds of other activists across the world calling for a renewable energy revolution and an equitable shift away from fossil fuels.

Dubbed ‘Power Up’, the revolution involved more than 200 ‘actions’ in over 46 countries.

Pacific Climate Warriors gather in front of Whitehaven Tarrawonga coal mine, calling for an end to fossil fuels and a ‘power up’ of safe renewable energy. Picture EREMASI ROVA/350 PACIFIC

And knee deep in the midst of all the action at Whitehaven was Gabriel Veigaunavinaka, a Pacific Climate Warrior from Fiji.

“I felt overwhelmed looking at how vast the size of a mine is,” the 20-year-old said.

“Looking at these coal mines and reflecting back on our communities, I think of how coal mining and gas production here in Australia is affecting the Gomeroi land custodians and how, back in the Pacific, our people are also facing similar issues because of the existential threats of climate change.

“This (last) weekend, we met with the custodians of Gomeroi country and shared stories on land – how we are connected to the land and how we can keep that together.

“How our people share similar customs and a sense of connectedness to the land.

“Our spiritual connectedness to the land links us to our ancestors, it links us to how we express ourselves, our identity. And we do not want that all lost.”

In April, Gomeroi traditional landowners filed a human rights complaint against 20 large Australian pension funds for investing in Santos Ltd’s Barossa and Narrabri gas projects.

The Pacific Climate Warriors have historically called for a global phase out of all fossil fuels, both in public actions and multilateral negotiations. Now, they join thousands around the world in a call for community-centered climate solutions and energy justice for impacted communities.

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