ODRAZ director participated in the panel discussion European Green Plan: challenges and opportunities
During the Third International Fažana Media Fest, the Representation of the European Commission in Croatia organized the Europa Press Club on September 11, 2021, a panel of journalists, experts and representatives of institutions and organizations dealing with or following “green” topics. ODRAZ Director Lidija Pavić-Rogošić participated in the panel discussion.
The aim was to deepen knowledge in an open discussion, exchange views and in media reports to arouse the interest of citizens and all other key stakeholders on the topic and inform them about news and plans that will have an impact on their daily lives.
Participants of the Press Club Europe:
- Hana Huzjak, Senior Economic Advisor, European Semester Officer, Representation of the European Commission in Croatia
- Lidija Pavić-Rogošić, Member of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and Director of ODRAZ-Sustainable Community Development
- Dražen Jakšić, Director of the Hrvoje Požar Energy Institute (EIHP)
- Tin Bašić, editor of the Zgradočelnik.hr platform
The moderator was Rima Joujou Deljkić, Head of the Press & Media Department from the Representation of the European Commission in Croatia. Ognian Zlatev, Head of the European Commission Representation in Croatia, also took part in the panel.
The panel was held in hybrid form. About 30 journalists from various media were present, and some, including two of the panelists joined remotely.
Under the European Green Deal, the EU has set a binding target in European climate regulation to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. This requires a significant reduction in current levels of greenhouse gas emissions in the coming decades.
On the other hand, the European Commission and the European Council gave the green light to the Croatian National Recovery and Resilience Plan on 28 July 2021 and now paves the way for the use of EU funds to boost economy and recovery from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The course of the panel:
Hana Huzjak explained in the introduction that the Commission had previously set the goal of making Europe the first continent in the world to be climate neutral. She briefed on what the ‘Fit for 55’ package covers and how the Commission will support Member States in implementing the package, once adopted.
‘For the first time, we have two binding targets – climate neutrality by 2050 and a 55 percent reduction in emissions by 2030, ‘said Huzjak.
The Commission’s latest proposals seek to accelerate the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the decade ahead, and one way is to increase the use of energy from renewable sources. Namely, energy production and use account for 75% of EU emissions, so it is necessary to accelerate the transition to a greener energy system. Therefore, the Directive on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources increases the target to produce these forms of energy to 40% by 2030, to which all Member States need to contribute.
Dražen Jakšić from the Hrvoje Požar Institute stated that we are currently very good in the production of renewable electricity due to the large number of hydroelectric power plants and that we are doing well in the production of energy from wind power. ‘However, we are at the back of Europe in terms of solar power plants, which will need to be significantly accelerated.’
The European Commission has proposed the establishment of a new, which will provide support to households that are in a difficult financial position to cope with the burden of this green transition. The fund weighs just over 72.2 billion euros and shares for member states will be distributed according to energy poverty levels. An amount of up to 1.4 billion euros is proposed for Croatia for the period 2025-2032.
Asked whether our citizens can follow the dynamics of changes that are expected, Lidija Pavić-Rogošić said that we cannot boast that we are doing well. According to data from 2018, 17.5 percent of citizens could not pay utilities. One third of people from social housing continuously owe for utilities, and the poorest fifth of citizens spend 12 percent of their income on energy.
‘We spend a lot more on energy than the EU average and we have high’ energy poverty ‘rates. There are some measures to help, we have guaranteed minimum benefits and housing benefits, but these are all social categories’, said Pavić-Rogošić. She noted that many citizens do not have access to information on the possibility of financing energy renovation of buildings and on existing incentives and called for the establishment of permanent and mobile one-stop-shops that will respond to the needs of citizens.
Tin Bašić from the Zgradočelnik.hr portal explained that building buildings are one of the largest consumers of energy and emit large amounts of greenhouse gases. ‘The biggest problems are – the legislative framework, education of the owners and tenants, documentation needed for energy renovation and financing’ mentioned Bašić.
The European Economic and Social Committee as well as civil society organizations contribute to the green transition by informing about new policies and possible ways of implementation to improve the quality of life of citizens. Therefore, sustainable transport is also a topic on the EESC’s agenda. Road transport is one of the key areas of the newly introduced package. One of the objectives of the Commission’s proposal is to make all new cars registered from 2035 onwards zero-emission cars. The automotive industry has announced large investments in the production of electric cars; however, public transport has also to play a role. This year has been declared the European Year of Railways.
Lidija Pavić-Rogošić presented the positive effects of the CIVINET Slo-Cro-SEE network for sustainable urban mobility, which brings together various stakeholders – from cities and ministries, faculties and institutes to civil society organisations and companies. The network informs relevant stakeholders on sustainable transport trends in the EU, acquaints them with good examples and encourages the adoption of SUMPs (Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans). She mentioned that the EESC has drawn up a series of opinions advocating the need for cleaner fuel for vehicles such as electricity or green hydrogen, but also on public transport and mobility planning in a way that contributes to a better quality of life.
In their closing remarks, Lidija Pavić-Rogošić stressed again that the green transition must be fair. Panelist agreed that the biggest challenges for Croatia are the transport sector and the energy renovation of buildings.