The Slovenia Times

Emerging climate strategy an opportunity for change of course


Environment Ministry State Secretary Simon Zajc said that the strategy until 2050, which is being drawn up by the ministry, would be put forward to the National Assembly once adopted by the government.

Three scenarios are being set out; to cut greenhouse emissions by 80% compared to 1990 levels, to reduce them by 95% or carbon neutrality. "Once the draft strategy is ready, we'll have to decide which scenario to follow."

Zajc also noted the need for the broadest possible support in parliament: "The strategy will cover the period until 2050, which means for terms of several different governments. We need very board support because the strategy would have to be implemented very ambitiously."

Slovenia is feeling the consequences of climate change in the form of extreme events every year, but Zajc said that these would only increase in length and number.

As priorities he listed enhancing flood defences and more effective phasing of funds from the Climate Fund to channel them into technologies that would replace fossil fuels and plastic, and stimulate a shift in the mindset in construction.

Slovenia's climate change negotiator Zoran Kus said that the climate strategy could become Slovenia's biggest post-independence project. "But only if drawn up in such a way that we'll all identify with it and believe in it."

Kus suggested Slovenia should follow the example of Sweden and the Netherlands, which passed climate change legislation with concrete and binding goals.

If Slovenia set very ambitious goals and committed to their implementation, the country could "set an example at home and internationally", said Gaja Brecelj, director of the environmental NGO Umanotera.

But she said that the government would have to play the key part. "It's where the state directs its finances that shows what development we've opted for," Brecelj said, calling for green budget and tax reform, green public procurement and putting an end to harmful subsidies.

Climate change expert Lučka Kajfež Bogataj listed technology, infrastructure and institutions as areas where change was needed. Slovenia had a lot of technological know-how, but the question was whether there was sufficient political stimulus.

"Slovenian infrastructure is not up to changed climate or cuts in greenhouse gas emissions," she said, regretting that Slovenia did not have an institution designated for climate change and that existing institutions were not linked horizontally enough.

She proposed introducing climate change as a course in schools and making it part of the matura secondary school-leaving exam. "Energy literacy is poor, adaptation literacy is poor. We have philosophers, sociologists, psychologists, but they aren't involved enough."

There was disagreement as to whether political will for action was strong enough with President Pahor asserting: "Political will is stronger than ever before", but Greenpeace Slovenia head Nina Štros begged to differ.

"I'd say that we are still at a level when politics is aware up to the point that it's doing things that appeal to it rather than those which are right. There's much more initiative from the private sector and the sector not directly regulated by the state," Štros said.

To illustrate she said that several thousand institutional investors pulled out more than US$6000bn from fossil fuels. "The money is waiting for other solutions but it needs stability and it will go where there's a sense that these are safe investments. The role of politics will be immense there."

The twenty speakers participating in the debate agreed that addressing climate change would call for cooperation between all sectors at all levels - national and local governments, individuals, private and public sectors.


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