Sunday, 26 September 2021

Croatian Schools Do Not Offer Systematic Education About Climate Change

ZAGREB, 26 Sept, 2021 - Croatian schools still do not offer systematic education about climate change even though transition to a climate neutral economy will create more than one million jobs in the EU in the period until 2030, teachers interested in the topic of climate change have said.

Croatian students acquire most of the knowledge about climate change by participating in projects.

Sanja Turčić Padavić, a teacher at a Rijeka secondary school, says that young people are aware that the new time brings new challenges that will be easier to deal with with green skills but that school curricula make no mention of such education.

Teachers who consider the topic important find a way to include it in their work with students, but there has been no incentive from the Science and Education Ministry, Turčić Padavić says.

"I convey the knowledge I have acquired through the subject I teach. If I were not involved in projects, I would probably not know what to teach about climate change or how," she says.

A study on climate change in the EU, of which she is a coordinator and which is part of the Erasmus+ programme, will be conducted over a period of three years.

It will focus on 243 endangered animal and plant species in three countries. The focus in Croatia is on fauna and based on the study's results, an innovative plan of recovery will be proposed for each of the species.

Several Croatian schools regularly take part in a national reforestation campaign, which is designed to point to the importance of trees in mitigating climate change.

There are also other forms of education, including a workshop organised by the Tatavaka association in July, which also involved members of the Civil Protection who as part of the school curriculum, have been preparing a handbook on how to reduce disaster risks.

Italy is the first country in the world to have officially introduced education about climate change and sustainable development in the school system, owing to efforts by former Education Minister Lorenzo Fioramonti.

Education on climate change received a lot of public attention with the climate marches of  2019, organised by students.

A 2020 survey on climate education in Europe collected 1,101 responses, with 89% coming from education workers. Almost all agreed that school is responsible for climate education, however, 70% said climate education was insufficiently present in school curricula.

Lack of competence and training was cited as the most frequent reason why teachers could not include it in curricula, the second reason being lack of resources.

A small percentage of respondents expressed doubts as to the existence of evidence about climate change being a serious problem.

The importance of education for strengthening the European framework for green competencies has been underlined at this year's EU Green Week.

Today there are initiatives such as UNESCO's education on climate change, eTwinning, Erasmus+, the European Parliament Ambassador School Programme (EPAS), and others.

The Green Deal and the fight against climate change are among priority policies of the European Parliament and special attention will be paid to these topics through activities, seminars and programmes that are organised by the EP Office in Croatia, the Office has said.

EPAS has been implemented in Croatia since 2016 and so far more than 60 secondary schools have attended it.

The European Parliament in 2019 declared a climate crisis, calling on the European Commission to harmonise future legislative and budget proposals with the objectives of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

In June this year the EP approved a new regulation on climate increasing the target reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the EU in the period until 2030 from 40% to at least 55%.

It also adopted a position on the Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 which aims to put under protection at least 30% of land and sea in the EU.

Transition to a low-carbon economy will create more than one million jobs in the period until 2030, which requires retraining and additional training for more than 120 million Europeans in the next five years.

According to OECD data, many countries have already included topics related to environmental protection in their school curricula, however, there is still no comprehensive strategy at the EU level.

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Friday, 9 July 2021

REPLACE Project Presented at JOINT SECAP Workshop in Rijeka

July 9, 2021 - The REPLACE Project was presented at the JOINT SECAP workshop in Rijeka on June 23. There is no better way to end a year and a half-long Interreg project for Croatia, which was one more ecosystem-concerned cooperation between Italy and Croatia.

When it comes to energy efficiency in Croatia, there is no doubt anybody cares about it more than the scientific community working and associating with Energy Institute Hrvoje Požar (EIHP).

Not only is the EIHP building on its way to becoming the first nearly zero energy building in the whole of the country, but EIHP's expertise also plays a big role in REPLACE Project from Horizon Europe. As TCN previously covered, the project aims to make Primorje Gorski Kotar County energy-renewable territory, and the ongoing meetings about the project (in collaboration with the University of Rijeka) see slow but steady progress in those respects.

As EIHP reports on its website, June 23 saw REPLACE Project presented in the congress hall of Rijeka's Jadran Hotel as part of the final workshop of the JOINT SECAP project.

„On behalf of EIHP, Antonia Tomas Stanković presented REPLACE in the second half of the event. The goal is to support European energetic, climate, environmental, economic, and social goals by 2030 and 2050 by encouraging the gradual replacement of inefficient and outdated cooling and heating systems with new, energy-efficient systems based on renewable energy sources“, informed EIHP.

JOINT SECAP, part of Interreg Italy-Croatia strategic program (much like the CASCADE Project TCN previously wrote about) aims to improve the climate change monitoring and planning of adaptation measures tackling specific effects in the cooperation area.

„The project idea reflects the necessity to operate at a wider district level and better define strategies and actions for climate change adaptation, especially for those weather and climate changes and hydrogeological risks affecting coastal areas. The first phase is developed to build the common methodology for Joint Actions definition and implementation and to share the basic knowledge about issues concerning climate change adaptation strategies and energy efficiency measures. The second phase starts upon the analysis uploaded in the web platform, acting as a useful tool for the development of scenarios for the Joint Actions to be implemented in the Joint SECAP plans, those last constituting the main project deliverable“, explained JOINT SECAP on its website. The workshop in Rijeka was the conclusion of the project as JOINT SECAP ended on June 30 after it began on January 1, 2012, with a budget of € 2,094,857.

The workshop in Rijeka, writes the EIHP website, was organized by Primorje Gorski Kotar County Office for Regional Development Infrastructure and Project Management and by Kvarner Regional Energetic Agency. Representatives of local authorities of Primorsko-Goranska county that were enrolled in creating an Energetic and Climate Sustainable Development Action Plan. These local authorities include towns such as Opatija and Kastav and the districts of Čavle, Matulji, and Viškovo.

„Joint SECAP analyzed energy spending for the included towns and districts, their risks and vulnerability regarding climate change, yearly emissions of CO2 in sectors of building construction industry, public lighting, and traffic. Concrete measures with the goal of adjusting to the effects of climate change and CO2 emissions down to at least 55% by 2030 were suggested“, stated EIHP.

With measures identified, the race with time begins as these measures should be in place as fast as possible to tackle one of the biggest challenges humanity is facing, and Croatia isn't able to be isolated from the threat.

Learn more about Rijeka on our TC page.

For more about science in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Monday, 21 June 2021

Energy Institute Hrvoje Požar (EIHP) to be First Nearly Zero Energy Building in Croatia

June 21, 2021 - An exciting new step for Croatian energy efficiency is happening at the Energy Institute Hrvoje Požar (EIHP), as the Institute makes significant changes to its building which will also help to educate other experts for energy efficiency.

As the Energy Institute Hrvoje Požar (EIHP) gave great support and input in REPLACE Project that brings energy efficiency to Rijeka and Kvarner region, just put a new log in Croatian energetic efficiency. The start of June saw the contract for granting non-returnable funds for founding nZEB- the National Training Center on Nearly Zero Energy Buildings, EIHP reported on its website. The project is financed from the „Energy and Climate Change“ Fund, part of the Financial Mechanisms 2014 – 2021 in Croatia, courtesy of the European Economic Area (EEA).

1,600,000 Euros is the total value of this project on which EIHP collaborates with the Faculty of Civil Engineering, University of Zagreb. The goal is to empower all the actors in reconstructing buildings to meet the nZEB standard.

With the center being established in the building of the Požar Institute undergoing reconstruction at the moment, it will be a vivid example of the modern technologies that are implemented in nZEB design.

„We will show and share with the widest professional community the solutions that will be developed through this project. The whole process of reconstruction will be followed and documented, and detailed, and serve as an example in the training program as the Institute becomes the first public building in Croatia reconstructed in such a manner. With the appliance of green energy technologies (electrification of heating and cooling systems with a crane that uses shallow geothermal source, integrated photo charged electric plant on the roof, energy containers, efficient lighting), we also wish to include E-mobility, which is certainly the future of traffic as well as accomplish complete digitalization of all technical systems the building is using. That way, the building will be the showcase example of the double transition – green and digital“; said the EIHP headmaster, Dražen Jakšić.

Jakšić attended the signing of the contract, along with the regional development Minister Nataša Tramišak, Norwegian Ambassador Haakon Blankenburg (as Norway also supports the Financial Mechanisms 2014 – 2021), Ministry secretary of economy and sustainable growth dr. Mario šiljeg, and the Faculty of Civil Engineering dean dr. Stjepan Lakušić.

„After this pandemic, we will not develop by repeating the things from before. A historical change is afoot, and we will meet it with green development and with new 'Green Deal'“, concluded Jakšić while Minister Tramišak also pointed out that securing financial mechanisms for advanced technologies and energy renewal.

Learn more about Croatian inventions & discoveries: from Tesla to Rimac on our TC page.

For more about science in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Sunday, 20 June 2021

Gorski Kotar's Eco-system, Tourism Suffer Due to Climate Change

ZAGREB, 20 June, 2021 - Climate change has left a huge mark on the forests of the Gorski Kotar mountain region in central Croatia, causing its tourism value to drop, experts say.

Over the past decade, ice, wind and the bark beetle have destroyed large parts of Gorski Kotar, whose economy, including tourism, is based on natural resources.

Dragan Turk, a manager at Risnjak National Park, says that due to natural disasters the national park will lose its value as a protected area. "If climate change is too fast, it will take more than 100 years for forests to regenerate."

Last week, an international team of experts presented the findings of a study on the effects of climate change in Gorski Kotar, warning that it could affect local tourism.

The study was conducted by the Zagreb Faculty of Economics and Business in cooperation with Leeds Beckett University and Bocconi University in Milan. The Croatian Meteorological and Hydrological Service cooperated on the project.

In four years, ice, wind and the bark beetle have destroyed more than a million square metres of wood, which has greatly affected the eco-system, experts says.

Beekeeper Damir Zanoškar says the various corridors resulting from deforestation are probably the cause of the increasingly strong winds registered in recent years.

He says the Hrvatske Šume national forest management company should ask itself what the current model forest management is leading to. "Thousands and thousands of logs are being driven somewhere far."

Beekeepers have joined forces and launched a fir-planting drive because fir is well-adapted to Gorski Kotar and is very useful to bees. Zanoškar says big fir-planting campaigns could give Gorski Kotar its former aspect back in 20-30 years.

"Time is running out," he warns. "We need forests and we must take immediate action."

Experts say that although extreme weather occurred in the past as well, today it causes bigger problems and is not related to only one season. That's why climate projections should be taken into account when planning new projects and infrastructure, they add.

Climate change could affect the tourism industry, notably in southern Europe, experts say.

Warmer and drier summers can result in bigger droughts, wildfires and negative changes in plants and animals, which would make summer vacations in Mediterranean countries uncomfortable. At the same time, northern countries with more moderate summers could see a rise in tourist turnover, experts say.

If it adapts, tourism can expect positive results, otherwise the negative effects are inevitable, they add.

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Saturday, 5 June 2021

World Environment Day Dedicated to Ecosystem Restoration

ZAGREB, 5 June 2021 - World Environment Day is observed on 5 June and this year it is dedicated to the restoration of ecosystems, whose resources are the foundation of the social and economic progress of humankind as well as people's health and wellbeing, Croatia's Economy and Sustainable Development Ministry has said.

Ecosystems play a significant role in the prevention of health crises such as COVID-19 because by destroying natural ecosystems, people have significantly increased the risk of illnesses passing from animals to people.

The ministry says the necessity to protect nature and the environment is also reflected in the fact that, according to the World Economic Forum, half the global GDP ($40 trillion), depends moderately or strongly on nature.

Given that many ecosystems have been irreversibly destroyed and others considerably degraded, our survival depends on the speed of action and clear international community coordination for their preservation and renewal, the ministry says.  

Therefore the United Nations Environment Programme, first with a resolution on 1 May and then with the Decade on Ecosystem Restoration movement, which symbolically kicks off with this year's World Environment Day, has called on all governments, the business sector, the expert and scientific community, and the wider public to prevent further degradation of ecosystems and to ensure a future for the generations to come, the ministry says.

That's why it's necessary to raise public awareness of the fact that humankind spends by the middle of the year the Earth's capacities that should suffice all year, it adds.

Ecosystem restoration, together with transition to a circular economy and a climate-neutral society, can simultaneously prevent poverty, hunger, loss of biodiversity, climate change, and uncertain access to drinking water, the ministry says.

The director of Greenpeace Croatia, Zoran Tomić, has told Hina that it's important to make cities greener and enable them to really recover.

City and local authorities now have the opportunity and duty to launch ecological transition to alleviate the effects of climate change and health crises, he says.

WWF Adria has called on citizens to demand of the authorities to implement concrete nature protection measures and support, through various campaigns, all those who contribute to nature preservation and protection.

Animal Friends Croatia has announced that on the occasion of World Environment Day, it will send all Croatian MPs a brochure on food and the ecology to explain the link between breeding animals for food and world hunger, global warming, water consumption and deforestation.

For more about ecology and environment in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 3 June 2021

Coastal Hazard Monitoring: New Method Developed by Ruđer Bošković Institute (IRB) Scientist-Led Team

June 3, 2021 - With climate change bringing trouble to the coast, coastal hazard monitoring is a must. Meet the new method developed by a research team led by a scientist from Ruđer Bošković Institute (IRB).

Individuals from the scientific Ruđer Bošković Institute (IRB) in Zagreb continue to catch the attention of internationally established scientific journals, such as Marine Science ranked in the top 10% of magazines for the issues of sea and water biology.

This time, IRB's dr. Cléa Denamiel led an international research team that presented an innovative concept of warning on coastal hazards with stochastic methods.
Authors at Standford.edu in a pdf presentation are presenting stochastic methods as methods that involve random variables. They gave an example of multiple arrows flying towards a rock from multiple directions. When they hit the rock, arrows are positioned randomly.

„Nevertheless, you can still use their positions to estimate the location of the target“, explained Standford.edu presentation.

So, the presentation further elaborated that „like using randomly-positioned arrows to estimate the position of a target, stochastic methods have the goal of gaining information out of randomness“.

„To put it simply, current systems of warning are based on numerical methods that require advanced informatical resources, living a huge carbon dioxide print on the environment, while with the suggested appliance of stochastic methods to optimize forecast of coastal hazards and greatly reduce the need for informatics resources while taking elements of coincidence into account“, explained IRB in its official press release.

This is very important as coastal areas are under the increasing influence of climate hazards, particularly sea-level rise. IRB states that its predicted hazards related to sea level directly impact around 630 million people around the world by 2100.

The new method of warning and quantifying data on coastal hazards presented by dr. Denamiel and her team is innovative as all current systems for such monitoring are much more complexed as they are based on numerical models from kilometer to the meter of clearance.“The suggested approach would require fewer resources while keeping or even improving forecasts and assessments of coastal hazards“, concluded, dr. Ivica Vilibić from IRB.

Learn more about Croatian inventions & discoveries: from Tesla to Rimac on our TC page.

For more about science in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 29 April 2021

Croatian National Bank: Banks Still Do Not See Climate Change As Serious Threat to Business

ZAGREB, 29 April, 2021 - Most banks in Croatia still do not see climate change as a serious threat to their business, a survey carried out by the Croatian National Bank (HNB) showed on Thursday.

The survey was presented as part of an online conference called "The Role of Banks in Greening Our Economies", organised by the HNB and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

The survey, carried out among 20 Croatian banks, showed that the banks did not see climate change as an immediate and serious threat to their business.

Only one bank said that climate change would have a generally significant impact on the Croatian banking system, 11 banks said that the impact would be moderate, while eight said that it would be insignificant.

Only two banks have a climate change-related strategy included in their overall business strategy, expressing concern about risks and anticipating possible changes to the regulatory framework. On the other hand, 15 banks said they were waiting for the regulators to take the initial steps in this regard.

Responding to the question about risk materialisation, 10 banks said that climate risks would not materialise in the near future, while 11 said they were not attaching major importance to exposure to climate change and environmental risks to their portfolio.

Physical risk includes the financial impact of climate change, and five sectors in Croatia are particularly vulnerable to it - tourism, agriculture, forestry, fisheries and energy distribution. More than a quarter of Croatian banks' exposures to non-financial institutions concern these sectors, mostly tourism, the survey showed.

However, none of the banks has so far assessed its exposure to climate and environmental risks, citing lack of reliable data and methodology as well as lack of qualified staff.

The sectors facing the biggest transition risk from climate change are transport and traffic, agriculture, motor vehicles, energy and oil products, and construction.

Only 9 banks offer green product to their customers

Most banks recognise opportunities brought by the transition to a low-carbon economy, with three-quarters of them saying they could benefit from this transition by financing green projects. However, only nine banks said they were offering a green product to their customers, such as loans for the energy renovation of buildings or the purchase of electric vehicles.

 HNB Governor Boris Vujčić said in his opening remarks that both the HNB and EBRD had acknowledged their responsibility for highlighting the role of banks in the climate transition. He recalled the Paris climate change agreement of 2015, which has been ratified by 189 countries, saying that it set ambitious goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prevent further global warming.

For more about business in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 14 April 2021

International Conference On Climate Change Held in Kaštela

ZAGREB, 13 April, 2021 - An online international conference on climate change was held in Kaštela, outside Split, on Tuesday to raise public awareness of the need to strengthen Croatia's capacity to deal with this matter.

The conference was organised by RERA, the public institution for coordination and development of Split-Dalmatia County as one of 11 partners in the EU project "Change We Care" between Croatia and Italy.

Croatia and Italy are to prepare joint projects to alleviate the consequences of climate change and include them in the new EU programming period 2021-2027.

Branka Pivčević Novak of the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development stressed the importance of developing the first national action plan on climate change, saying that the modernisation of the national meteorological network in Croatia was very important.

Speaking online from Italy, the "Change We Care" project leader Davide Bonaldo said the project envisaged evaluating the current situation and newer trends in physical and ecological processes along the Adriatic coast, making projections of scenarios in climate change conditions, and identifying measures to adapt to climate change in five pilot areas.

Those are Vransko Jezero lake, the Neretva river delta, the Jadro river and the Kaštela Bay in Croatia, and Mula di Muggia and the Po river delta in Italy.

The end goal of the project is to establish adaptation measures to deal with climate change, Bonaldo said, adding that local communities would benefit the most.

Climate change affects the low-lying coastal area, which is urbanised, as well as the cultural heritage and tourism, so the goal of this plan is the implementation of an integral approach to the management of the Kaštela coastal area in the context of climate change, said Professor Martina Baučić of the Split Faculty of Civil Engineering.

For more about ecology in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 5 March 2021

President Zoran Milanović: Energy Efficiency Can Help Adjust to Climate Change

ZAGREB, 5 March, 2021 - Economic losses in the EU due to climate change extremes amount to €12 billion annually and energy efficiency can help adjust to climate change and create jobs, not lose them, President Zoran Milanović said on Friday after meeting with representatives of Croatia's regional energy agencies.

The meeting was held at the Bračak Energy Centre in Zabok on the occasion of World Energy Efficiency Day, observed on 5 March to raise awareness of the need to reduce energy consumption and sustainable energy use, the president's office said in a press release.

In the past 13 years, together with counties, towns and municipalities, Croatia's regional energy agencies have been implementing sustainable energy use projects. Investment in clean energy exceeds HRK 1 billion.

They successfully participate in many EU projects for the energy-efficient renovation of public infrastructure, developing new business models and financial instruments, which makes them Croatia's energy transition pioneers, it was said at the meeting.

President Milanović said there was no successful adjustment to climate change without energy efficiency and that the climate crisis was potentially the biggest global crisis of the future.

"The experience in achieving renewable and efficient energy and climate protection in Croatia, which regional energy agencies already have, is a good example to all in Croatia at local as well as national level that we can and must do even better when it comes to energy efficiency. Our children must go to better schools, the buildings we live in should be both safe and energy-efficient, our cities deserve to become smart in terms of energy," he said after the meeting.

"The economic losses in the EU due to weather and climate extremes already amount to €12 billion annually. Energy efficiency is what can help us to adjust to climate change, not to lose jobs but create them, raising the standard of living of us all," he added.

Croatia has five regional energy agencies which employ 70 experts while the EU has 350, some of which have been active more than 40 years.

There are four million green jobs in the EU today, including 1.4 million in the production of energy from renewables and over 900,000 in energy efficiency activities, said Julije Domac, the president's energy and climate advisor.

"That's what we should focus on. Croatia has the know-how, as evidenced by the fact that Croatian energy agencies regularly coordinate European development projects, provide services to the European Commission and are active across the European Union. Today it's important that each of us know that energy efficiency means better for them, for Croatia, and then for Earth," he added.

Thursday, 21 January 2021

Zagreb Summer Today Has 45 More Days Than During 1960s

January 21, 2021 – What will be welcome news to Zagreb's increasing number of transitory summertime visitors, may be more difficult for permanent residents (and their children) to deal with, as it's revealed the hot Zagreb summer has been extended by a considerable 45 days since the 1960s

Over recent years, the Croatian capital's rising popularity with visitors has made it the fastest-growing tourist destination in the country. But, its increasing footfall from those on holiday is not the only similarity the city now shares with the sun-drenched coast; their climates, once separate and distinct, are now closer than ever before. In fact, Zagreb summer now has on average 45 more days to its duration than it did during 1960s.

While summertime tourists don't seem to mind basking in the sunny streets while catching the city sights in t-shirts and shorts, many residents are only too aware of how stifling an entire season can be if spent solely in the capital. Zagreb summer is traditionally a time when many try to get away, to go cool off on the coast. And yet, despite this being a time-honoured tradition, the extent of the rapid and recent extension of Zagreb summer will still come as a shock to many.

The surprising details were revealed in a rather long article in yesterday's Vecernji List. Within the sprawling text, Doctor of Science Ivana Herceg Bulić, a professor at the Department of Geophysics, Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb and the head of the newly established Centre for Climatological Research said “Based on previous measurements, our analysis shows that every ten years the number of Zagreb summer days - the number of days with a maximum temperature above 25 degrees Celsius - on Grič increases by eight days. In Maksimir, on the other hand, located in a less developed part of town, measurements indicate an increase of seven additional summer days in ten years. Only when we approach the end of the city like Pleso do we reach the number of six summer days more. Zagreb today has 45 more summer days than we had in the middle of the last century."

city-3335667_1920.jpgThe centre of Zagreb is the area of the capital which has experienced the most sustained rise in temperatures

The reason for the increase in Zagreb summer is less welcome than the hot days it provides; global warming and climate change are the cause, compounded by inadequate urban planning. As TCN has recently reported, the population of Zagreb continues to rise. As it does so, the demand for new buildings increases and the city boundaries extend. This creates an island of heat whose concrete retains the warmth of the day, long after the sun has set, resulting in sustained high temperatures. Studies show that such conditions are disadvantageous to health.

The information given by Dr Herceg Bulić comes from a new report by the Centre for Climatological Research. Coming just days after Zagreb residents were informed that they had just breathed the worst quality air in the whole of the European Union, you could forgive anyone considering to make their Zagreb summer exodus a more permanent move. But, the news isn't all that bad.

Less built-up areas of the city, those with extensive parkland and who have kept the trees that line their avenues, record a much less harsh summer temperature. In Croatian cities like Osijek and Karlovac, where parkland and trees within the city are cherished, the summers are far from stifling. Though climate change requires a global response, Zagreb can easily address its own summer burden with better urban planning, the preservation of grasslands, parklands and trees, plus the planting of more. Such foresight is necessary to embrace now if we are to ensure that Zagreb summer in the future will be as welcoming to visitors and as wonderful for residents as it is today.

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