The Slovenia Times

Climate change committee resigns over NGOs developments


Geographer and ecologist Dušan Plut, one of the seven members of the committee which was appointed by Pahor last November, confirmed for the STA that Pahor's lack or response had been the key reason for the decision.

"We had expected he would intervene to at least preserve the status NGOs had before the emergency legislation," Plut said in a reference to changes that affect NGOs, including by imposing retroactive provisions that eliminate the bulk of them from permit procedures.

Unfortunately this did not happen, added Plut, who argued a major democratic mechanism had been all but removed, which is something Slovenia should not have done, not least because it is a member of international climate agreements.

Pahor responded by saying he understood the committee resigned because its warnings about the contentious legislation had been disregarded.

While Pahor faced has criticism for not responding to the developments in any noticeable fashion, he argued that contrary to the committee's expectations, the president does not have the constitutional right to withhold his signature from the proclamation of a law.

"I would like to let you know that I will continue actively pushing for the goals that have also been laid down by the permanent advisory committee," Pahor wrote, adding he would have to look for new ways to use his post to achieve the changes they are committed to together.

"I would like to say one thing: I understand political activism and respect your linear approach to climate policy. I also understand that you are not left cold by such a notable defeat of environmental organisations. But I believe that along with political activism, strategic change in climate policy will also require a long march through institutions.

"This is the manner in which I had conceived this permanent committee for climate change, a unique forum - organised with the president of a country - in the world," Pahor added.

The government - arguing the crisis demanded simplifying procedures for investment projects and that NGOs had blocked many key project in the past for selfish reasons - recently restricted the role of environmental NGOs with changes to two pieces of legislation, one being the act on environmental protection and the other the construction act.

While building permit procedures were deregulated in the latter in other ways as well, new provisions set forth that environmental NGOs or associations need to have at least 50 active members to participate in the procedures, which NGOs prove with regularly paid membership fees and participation in membership assemblies.

Environmental organisations that have the status of institutes need to have at least three fully employed staff with university education in the field of NGOs, while institutions or foundations need to have at least EUR 10,000 in assets. The conditions for all three sets of organisations apply for two years back.

As Pahor formed the advisory committee last year, he said the objective was to come up with recommendations for decision-makers at home and abroad and to inform the public about them.

Along with Plut, the members were climatologist Lučka Kajfež Bogataj, Mojca Dolinar of the climatology department of the Environment Agency, Andrej Gnezda of the environmental NGO Umanotera, Nicoleta Nour of the Young for Climate Justice movement, and Andreja Urbančič of the Jožef Stefan Institute.


More from Nekategorizirano