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50000-strong petition to save Lake Baikal from Mongolian hydro plan

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"The sun and the wind have to save Baikal," say 55,000 citizens of various countries that have signed an appeal to the President of Russia, Mongolia, China and the World Bank.

This is among the largest online international environment issue petitions Russia has seen and aims to save Lake Baikal from Mongolian hydro plant development around the lake’s main tributaries, for which Mongolia has solicited funds from the World Bank and China. The plan seriously threatens the World Heritage Site’s water volume and biodiversity.

A petition on Avaaz.org, a major online advocacy organization, hit 55,000 signatures today, with concerned citizens of various countries requesting funds be instead diverted to renewable energy development — solar and wind energy stations in the Mongolian Gobi desert.

The signers appeal to the President of Russia, Mongolia, China and the World Bank ahead of a May 7th meeting, during which Russian, Mongolian and Chinese officials are expected to decide on an important energy and transport trilateral agreement. This agreement could significantly protect Lake Baikal if they work to incorporate an agreement to create solar and wind power plants in the Mongolian Gobi Desert as an alternative to hydropower plants of the Selenga River Basin.

The appeal was delivered to the Ministry of Open Government and the Ministry of Energy today. The campaign suggests the Selenga River and Lake Baikal would be unable to support sustained energy production, and strongly urges diverting financing to environmentally friendly projects.

The petition reads:

President Vladimir Putin, President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj – President of Mongolia, President Xi Jinping, China’s president, and the head of the World Bank Dr. Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank:

We, concerned citizens of Russia and the world, call on you to protect Lake Baikal, the deepest lake in the world, from Mongolia plans for the construction of cascade hydropower stations. This shortsighted plan will lead to the death of the lake and its ecosystem, not allowing Mongolia to obtain desired energy. Instead, we urge you to finance the construction of environmentally friendly wind and solar power plants in the Mongolian part of the Gobi Desert – and prevent environmental disaster before it is too late.

For the Russian version of the campaign and petition text, please see here – https://secure.avaaz.org/ru/save_lake_baikal_loc/

Press-release in  Russian-http://www.greenpeace.org/russia/ru/news/2015/07-07-2015-BaikalSignatGESMongol/

The impending impact of the hydro plant development, if it goes into effect, is formidable, as water levels have already dropped below critical levels due to drought in Mongolia. Despite this, the projects are supported by the World Bank, and funding construction is speculated to be in consideration by the Export-Import Bank of China, as well as certain Middle Eastern, Turkish and international banks. This will not only seriously disrupt the ecosystem and threaten the lake’s 2500 species, but, will affect negatively the hundreds of thousands of people living around its shores.

Furthermore, on May 9th, leaders of the three countries will be discussing a three-way "road map of cooperation", which aims to make Russia and Mongolia, part of a single "Silk Road” project initiated by the President Xi Jinping of China. China has urged all partners to "promote ecological progress in conducting investment and trade, increase cooperation in conserving the environment, protecting biodiversity, and tackling climate change – to join hands to make the Silk Road an environment-friendly one”.

Civil society organizations have united in coalition to uphold the voices of 55,000 and call on these governments to protect Lake Baikal and its biodiversity.

// For interview requests please contact Nataliya Rovenskaya at nataliya@avaaz.org.

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