The Slovenia Times

Broad consensus key for carbon-neutral society, debate hears


"Cooperation will be the greatest challenge. It is hard even to coordinate between two ministries, while we will need to coordinate all ministries, businesses and acts by each individual," Zajc told the press on the sidelines of the event in Ljubljana.

"I think that there is no option other than to go towards this goal. This is what motivates me to be optimistic about our success," he added.

The debate heard many opposing views on the future production of energy in Slovenia, while the participants agreed that the TEŠ thermal power plan in Šoštanj will have to shut down earlier than planned.

Zajc thinks that in this respect Slovenia should follow the example of Germany, which plans to close its thermal power plants by 2035-2038.

The idea opens up many questions, including whether Slovenia should continue to produce nuclear power, which is problematic due to nuclear waste, with hydro power plants, which change the appearance of rivers, with wind farms, which require forests to be cut down, or in another way.

Zajc said that the Environment Ministry had no answer of its own for that, adding that it needed to be reached in a public consensus. He called for all stakeholders to "put emotions aside" and to take into account pure numbers only.

The minister announced last week a special bill to facilitate the fight against climate change, adding that it was important because "we want the goal we'll set for 2050 to enjoy a very broad political consensus."

The bill is expected to be ambitious, as the government has called for a carbon-neutral society in the EU by 2050, Zajc said, adding that the support from all ministries was a "good starting point and motivation" for further debate.

While it is not possible to order political parties to include environmental and climate change topics in their programmes, they will at least have to present their positions in parliamentary debate, the minister said.

The bill is expected to include five-year carbon budgets, which will serve as basis for five-year plans for the implementation of the long-term climate strategy.

A carbon budget will define total greenhouse gas emissions the country may produce in a five-year period, with the first one expected to cover the 2021-2026 period, according to the national long-term climate policy framework.

In creating the budgets, the government will be assisted by an independent expert council. Slovenia's chief climate negotiator Zoran Kus said it would feature between five and seven scientists who would also monitor the implementation of the five-year plans.

The ministry is also thinking about establishing a government office for green transition and an agency which would supervise the financial implementation of the climate change plans.


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