Conference on the Future of Europe _ Just and effective transition of Croatia towards climate neutrality
Lidija Pavić-Rogošić from ODRAZ, a member of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), participated in the preparation and implementation of a panel discussion for civil society organizations on just and effective transition, which was held on 6 October 2021.
The Ministry of the Economy and Sustainable Development (MINGOR) of the Republic of Croatia, Directorate for Climate Activities held a series of panel discussions from 20 September to 11 October 2021 to stimulate discussion with various stakeholders and the general public on the challenges and opportunities for a just and effective transition to climate neutrality. The final conference is scheduled for October 27, 2021.
The EU’s climate ambition, shared by Croatia, will affect all segments of society and the aim is to establish a dialogue in society so that it is aware of the changes that need to be undertaken, while reaching a broad consensus of all parts of society. The question is how various stakeholders can help our society in this demanding process!
Through eight separate panel discussions, the target groups were given the opportunity to first discuss within their group and consider their role in the transition. The panels were held for the business sector, local and regional decision-makers, youth, media, education sector, scientists, trade unions and civil society organizations.
A separate survey was prepared for each panel with the purpose of collecting data on information and attitudes of the target group. The results of the survey were discussed on the panels by selected panelists with the help of a moderator, while the other participants were able to follow the discussion remotely with the possibility of commenting.
At the final conference on October 27, 2021, the representatives of each of the panels will present the conclusions and recommendations from their panel discussion and the discussion will continue. The consolidated conclusions and recommendations will be published on the MINGOR website and on the Conference platform.
These events are being held in the context of the Conference on the Future of Europe, launched by the European Commission to hear the voice of EU citizens on Europe’s challenges and priorities. EU Member States have adopted a European Climate Law, which sets a common goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 and achieving climate neutrality by 2050 at the latest. Scenarios for reducing greenhouse gas emissions are described in the Low Carbon Development Strategy of the Republic of Croatia until 2030 with a view to 2050, which together with the new legislation will direct Croatia’s development towards a drastic reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
The role of civil society organizations
The issue of the role of civil society organizations (CSOs) and how they can help catalyze this process was discussed at a panel discussion held on 6 October 2021.
The panelists were:
- Marko Stančec, Network for Sustainable Urban Mobility CIVINET Slo-Cro-SEE / Network Secretariat; ODRAZ
- Mario Munta, Faculty of Political Science, University of Zagreb
- Vjeran Piršić, Eco Kvarner, Omišalj
- Gabrijela Medunić-Orlić, Sunce Association, Split
- Luka Tomac, Green Action, FoE Croatia, Zagreb
The moderator of the panel, which was attended by about 40 representatives of CSOs and other stakeholders, was Lidija Pavić-Rogošić from ODRAZ-Sustainable Community Development and also a member of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC).
Prior to the event, which was held in a hybrid form, civil society organizations filled-in an online questionnaire on level of information and attitudes, which served as a basis for panel discussion and as a basis for drawing conclusions and recommendations.
According to the survey results, 73% of respondents fully agree with the statement that climate change is a serious problem in Croatia, and 18% somewhat agree.
When asked who they consider most responsible for solving the problem of climate change, the majority of respondents believe that we are all responsible, followed by the Government of the Republic of Croatia and ministries, the business sector and industry, and regional and local self-government. Respondents believe that of the listed stakeholders, the least responsible are associations.
When asked what measures the respondents personally take in order to combat climate change, in the first place it was pointed out that they separate waste in appropriate places (recycle). Then it follows: I buy local and seasonal fruits and vegetables; I try to make full use of all the “waste” and use it in other ways before I throw it away; I do not use plastic bags and other disposable plastic; when buying household appliances (washing machines, refrigerators, etc.) I take into account the low energy consumption; my main form of transport are bicycle and similar forms of transport, including walking. There is less involvement in green actions, and there is a smaller number of those who use public transport or have bought a hybrid or electric car or even less, have installed solar panels.
The set of questions in the survey related to the way in which climate change is perceived. 66% of respondents believe that global climate change should be viewed as a political and ethical issue because of the negative effects on vulnerable groups in society, and not exclusively as an environmental issue. Almost all respondents ‘agree’ or ‘somewhat agree’ that a low-carbon transition for citizens must lead to a more just society in which social inequalities will be reduced. During the panel discussion, we also talked about energy poverty, when citizens cannot pay their bills for energy, heating, etc., and about the announcement of the Commission on the establishment of the Social Fund to mitigate the consequences. The role of associations in ensuring a fair transition was also discussed.
85% of respondents believe that Croatia lacks calls for projects to raise public awareness of climate change (local / regional, national and EU funds programmed in Croatia) to which CSOs can apply. They confirmed that Calls are often created in a way that does not allow for innovation and the design of activities that respond to real needs (pre-detailed activities that must be implemented in all projects) and that there are too many bureaucratic obstacles.
A large percentage of respondents believe that a big number of local authorities do not link climate change to indirect effects on society, such as potential damage to food production or changes in the energy system due to restrictive measures to mitigate the effects of climate change. In addition, not all local authorities are sensitive to the importance of initiatives to combat climate change. Respondents believe that local authorities do not perceive CSOs as relevant partners in the field of low-carbon transition (environmental, production and social aspects).
Slightly more than half of the respondents believe that the lack of capacity and expertise in most CSOs is a limiting factor for the greater role of CSOs in society, but they emphasized that they are heterogeneous organizations. The need for greater cooperation and networking of different CSOs was discussed during the discussion. A good example of cross-sectoral cooperation, the CIVINET Slo-Hr-SEE network for sustainable urban mobility was mentioned. It was briefly described what associations do in the field of low-carbon development, in local communities, but also at the level of policies. The topic that was also discussed was related to what needs to be improved to make the impact of associations more visible and stronger.
Over 70% of respondents agree that protocols should be developed and institutionalized to promote informed and inclusive dialogue between government institutions and civil society. Some good examples in some Croatian local communities were mentioned.
#CoFoE #ODRAZ #EESC