The Slovenia Times

Invitation to a green agreement


Green is not only the colour of nature, money and new European strategies; it is the colour of one of many possible future scenarios. "In order to understand it and perhaps actively participate in its creation, we must feel it deep inside ourselves," explains Violeta Bulc, European Transport Commissioner. She also belives, that we must look at it with an expanded consciousness, which dares to explore beyond the boundaries of the known and which directs our courage towards a new eco civilisation paradigm; one which ties development to responsibility and social welfare.

How polluted actually is our world and which sectors are placed close to the top of the list of the worst polluters?

The energy sector, which is still largely dependent on fossil fuels, remains the largest polluter. However, if energy losses due to inadequate construction of residential and industrial buildings, energy-hungry products, and the lack of efficient (smart) system management is added to this, we can detect problems in addition to opportunities. Transport is the second biggest polluter, creating EUR 1 trillion per year of negative externalities where pollution is among the biggest ones. Agriculture is also placed close to the top of the list of the worst polluters, due to the lack of a long-term global strategy, which would enable farmers to restructure their farming activity by means of smart tools and services, understanding of biodynamic models, and appropriate analytical tools for efficient and nature-friendly management. We must also mention the pharmaceutical and beauty industries, which destroy oceans, rivers and land through micro plastics and chemicals influences that are mostly invisible to the human eye.

The oceans are the largest suppliers of oxygen on the Earth, while at the same time the most endangered. The European Commission has been successful with measures to reduce the use of plastic. The mandatory discharge of vessel waste in European ports, and the acceptance of old fishing nets and waste collected by fishermen at sea free of charge are just two examples.

What about the activities young Greta Thunberg?

The "scream" by the young Greta Thunberg is completely justified - as is her message. Young people are showing us the problems; it is incumbent on us, the active population, to take measures, not only for the sake of economic goods, but for life itself. It must, therefore, come from the heart.

Do you belive, that "Vision Zero" is feasible by 2050?

The "Vision Zero" by 2050, which has been set by the European Union, is feasible, but only by means of technological progressand innovation at all levels, e.g. in social and business modelling, behaviour and urban design. But even this will not be enough. The challenges call for a universal social contract which would carry social justice at its core. The flow of climate refugees will continue to increase, as there will be ever more areas in the world where climate conditions will throw people into a state of desperation, and generally increase susceptibility to extremist movements.

But where in transport and legislative should we start? 

Firstly, in the "front loop", which includes the production of vehicles, vessels and aircraft with alternative propulsion systems or renewable fuel. A large scale of deployment of infrastructure for access to renewable sources of energy in also underway. Equally important In the "front loop" is a strong push for public transport and mobility as a service (MAAS). Secondly, in the "reverse loop", which includes the production of electricity. A strong push is being put in place for a transition from oil based to renewable based sources, combined with nuclear energy. This will also serve to achieving the second EU key goal to reduce the EU's energy dependence on third countries. Thirdly, in mutual close cooperation of the telecommunications, energy and transport sectors as a single ecosystem, the EU is encouraging the provision of smart solutions which will reduce the need for mobility by better planning, and improve the efficiency of energy use, for example, with smart dynamic energy grids supported by smart networks and the artificial intelligent tools. The latter is also an innovation in the proposed new EU budget for the 2021-27 period, which envisages more than 70% of all investment being in GREEN transport, with the highest rate of co-financing being intended for projects which include partners from all three infrastructural fields.

And where is Slovenia? 

Slovenians are environmentally aware. We are one of the most successful EU member states in recycling. Our national flag is green, and cleanliness is one of the first impressions of Slovenia noted by tourists. Numerous companies are adding environmentally friendly solutions to their socially responsible elements of operation, and energy efficiency is one of the most frequent mechanisms for reducing costs.
What is lacking is an umbrella project which would enable every craftsperson, entrepreneur or manager and every citizen to be involved to the best of their abilities for the common good. The time has come to create an umbrella "strategic story" of Slovenia, in which green, health and love could perhaps be part of the leading integrated content. Slovenia has not yet managed to find its place in the EU with content with which it can connect other member states as a leading partner. Perhaps it is precisely this green and healthy approach, imbued with people's love of nature and life, that could be installed in the heart of Europe. Industry could thus inspire common values in all its products and services. Schools could encourage the use of environmentally aware know-how in support of the common story. It would then be easier to reach a consensus that we need a modern railway network, which enables speeds of up to 200 km/h at least between major cities and airports; to establish green zones, in particular in our Triglav National Park; to develop efficient public transportation combined with sharing economy services, both in cities and villages; to adjust legislation to favour ecological products in schools, kindergartens, and public institutions; to sort materials more innovatively, which would make it easier to introduce them for re-use, reduce, repair and to implement "green legislation", which rewards those who successfully implement green solutions and effectively penalises violators. It is time to transform opportunity into concrete values and create a framework and mechanisms in our society which help people decide where to direct their investments and be educated for the future, and how to engage their creative capital.

Do we have the potential to win the fight with the climate crisis?

The "Green Deal" and a clear "Vision Zero" by 2050 provide political and long-term strategic frameworks which ensure predictability and necessary transparency for long term investments and effective integration of the entire society. But for humans to continue to coexist with all the other creatures on this Earth, we will need, in addition to reason, also to courageously activate the heart, spiritual and social dimensions. Only when we, as individuals, get to comprehensively understand ourselves as humans, and allow ourselves to personally develop and change our perspectives, will we be able to contribute to a sustainable, healthier society. I believe that we are on the right track. We should thus support each other in our everyday efforts so that GREEN will not only be a part of our strategies, but an element of everything that we are and do. It is true that sometimes we only need an incentive to dare to be on the right side of history and also co-create it by doing so. I am on board. Are you?


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