Meet Arsenii: Regional Coordinator for Northeast Eurasia

Student Energy’s Global Youth Energy Outlook is led by a team of 12 youth Regional Coordinators who are working together to reach a total of 50,000 young people around the world in 2020 and 2021. As they engage young people in their region through a two-phase research process, the Outlook’s Regional Coordinators will be gathering insights and recommendations to develop the final Outlook report, with key findings set to be shared at COP26 in 2021.

In this interview series, we get to know each of our Regional Coordinators in-depth:

Introduce yourself and where you come from.

My name is Arsenii Kirgizov-Barskii, I am originally from Siberia next to the Baikal Lake, the deepest freshwater lake in the world. Now, I study in Moscow and I hope to become a diplomat in two years after graduating from my masters. I have studied a lot about sustainable development and energy. I have been involved in one initiative established in 2015 called BRICSYEA and now I am the assistant chairman for this organization; it is a very important tool for youth in BRICS countries. I have tried to bring the sustainable development agenda to the BRICSYEA organization.

Why are you passionate about energy and/or climate action?

In Russia, I believe the climate topic is quite marginalized. The youth are very concerned about climate change in Russia just like other countries and when it comes to energy, Russia is quite different from the other countries in the region as Russia has quite a lot of resources and is an exporter. Russia is not transitioning to clean energy right now and it is unclear if they will in the foreseeable future. But as a representative of the youth, I see the energy transition as important, to move away from natural resources completely. I believe we have to develop other energy sources and new tools for development. I believe that youth need to express their views on energy to influence the decision-makers on what youth see that needs to change. The youth perspective will be clear when the outlook is presented. 

When it comes to climate change, I personally come from Siberia next to Baikal Lake where climate change is a pressing issue. There have been catastrophic wildfires destroying the lake, wildfires, and the environment of the cities and surrounding areas. I see climate change as a very important issue that needs to be addressed and I am very deeply concerned about it, especially when it comes to the conservation of Baikal Lake and the conservation of the Siberian forests. I have a lot of other climate concerns as well including pollution in cities, recycling in Moscow which produces millions of tonnes of rubbish a year. There are so many climate issues that need to be addressed in my region and youth are driving this change. Youth are sending a clear message on climate change, the outlook will show the rest of the population what they want to be done to stop climate change.

What do you think are some of the biggest challenges to transitioning to a sustainable energy system in your region?

As I’ve mentioned, Russia and many other countries of the region do not see the need to change. Since the government doesn’t see the need to change and is unwilling to divert from their role as exporters the obstacle will be convincing the government to change. However, there are many other countries in my region that will bring a different perspective.  A primary issue with the transition to sustainable energy in my region is that many of the countries rely on very old equipment that needs to be modernized. Most of the problems in this sphere come from the need to modernize the equipment causing energy loss. The grid is very old and losing energy between countries. I also see a lack of cooperation between countries in the region. Countries need to exchange their new technologies to modernize one another’s systems.

What aspects of the energy system in your region do you plan to learn more about?

There is a lot to learn about smart grid and new innovative solutions. I hope to learn more about it when I study more about the energy system. The energy system itself is important but also the regional corporations in the energy system – I am interested in how countries cooperate

What impact do you personally hope the Outlook will have in your region, and globally?

The hope to share the Outlook at the UN Climate Conference when it is published to bring it to the decision-makers attention to hear what young people from around the world want and hopefully they will realize that youth around the world are actually quite similar in their climate concerns. I hope the Outlook will enable climate and energy issues to be addressed nationally and internationally in my region.

Why is it important to hear the perspectives of young people in your region?

The youth are not involved in decision-making processes in many regions near my country. The youth can give their opinions to decision-makers at a higher level to deliver information and statistics and then the youth perspective can be understood.

How do you think Student Energy and the Outlook will contribute to the future of energy?

I believe it is important to improve international cooperation in the energy sector which is what Student Energy does. We are changing the statistics on youth. The work that has been done at my organization BRICS Youth has influenced decision making, and I hope that the Outlook will help decision-makers too.

How did you first get involved in Student Energy?

The chairman of BRICSYEA was in touch with Student Energy and told me about the Outlook and the youth perspective it will employ. I submitted my cover letter for this position and this last March I was invited to the Youth Forum in New York and was excited to get involved and meet student energy. I was excited to get involved in this agenda and the international processes and diplomacy and international cooperation. I am very interested in the Student Energy story – I got started in BRICS Youth and now chair the program.