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Czech Republic joins EU climate neutrality goal

Young protesters demand immediate climate action and a "Green New Deal"

Prague, Czech Republic – The Czech Republic has officially signed up to the European Union’s goal to achieve climate neutrality by 2050, local Hospodarske Noviny daily reported.

In a letter sent by Environment Minister Richard Brabec (ANO) to the European Commission and EU member states, the Czech Republic officially backed the EU’s ambitious goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050 and states that the country is committed to the fight against climate change.

Czech Republic signs up to EU climate neutrality despite initial scepticism

The Czech government, including Prime Minister Andrej Babis, has in the past repeatedly criticized the goal of reaching zero net emissions by mid-century. Officials in Prague had joined Poland and Hungary last June to block the EU from adopting its climate neutrality target, but eventually came round after being offered assurances regarding its nuclear energy program.

Along with reaffirming the Czech Republic’s commitment to tackling climate change, Minister Brabec reminds the government’s intention to expand its nuclear power capacities and argues the Czech Republic should receive an important financial support to reach zero emissions by 2050.

According to a March survey, climate awareness has reached a record-high among the Czech population, with more than 80% of respondents saying that man-made climate change and global warming pose a significant threat to the future of mankind.

The study points out that Czechs are particularly worried about the impact of climate change on agriculture and droughts.

Pandemic exposes lack of consensus

Arguing it would be impossible given its reliance on coal in its energy mix and electricity generation, Poland remains the only country not to have signed up to the EU’s climate neutrality goal. Warsaw could nonetheless be by far the biggest beneficiary of the EU’s Just Transition Fund, a multi-billion fund set up by the EU to help coal-reliant regions transition towards greener and cleaner energy sources.

The Czech Republic would also be among the top 5 beneficiaries of the fund, according to preliminary figures.

Although the European Commission has vowed to stick to the objectives of its “Green Deal” and put climate and environmental issues at the heart of the bloc’s post-Covid recovery plan, climate activists and experts fear measures to tackle climate change could be put on hold as the EU faces its biggest economic recession to date.

Alexandr Vondra, the Czech lawmaker in charge of supervising negotiations for the Just Transition Fund in the European Parliament, himself suggested the 2050 climate neutrality goal could have to be postponed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I understand that some would like to delay this goal due to the economic challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic”, reacted Hungarian MEP Sandor Ronai. “But in my view, the pandemic provides a unique opportunity to transform and rebuild our economies based on the European Green Deal”.

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