Monday, 21 March 2022

Croatia Marking International Forest Day

21 March 2022 - International Forest Day, 21 March, this year focuses on the theme "Forests and sustainable production and consumption", to warn that forest renewal and sustainable management helps fight climate change and crises that occur due to the loss of biodiversity. 

Forests are threatened by climate change, wildfires, water disruptions, bacteria, fungi, and air, soil and water pollution.

Globally, the loss of forests will continue due to climate change despite efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which is why sustainably managed forests fulfil all generally useful functions and produce goods and services for the integral sustainable development of communities.

The Hrvatske Šume state-owned forest management company notes that there is no fear of forest loss in Croatia because the country manages its forests and forest land in a sustainable way, in line with 10-year plans.

Wood resources are used to the extent that does not threaten the survival of forests, which is why in Croatia fewer trees are felled annually than are planted, Hrvatske Šume notes.

Forests and forest land in Croatia account for 49.3% of the country's land area. Of that, 76% is owned by the state and 24% by private forest owners.

Forests in Croatia 95% natural

The main trait of Croatian forests is that they are 95% natural, unlike many European forests that have been turned into plantations and monocultures.

"That is why Croatia's natural forests are admired by Europeans and that is why they are home to numerous rare plant species and the three largest European predators -  the brown bear, the wolf, and the lynx," Hrvatske Šume says.

A report on the state of nature in Croatia for the period from 2013 to 2017 shows that 98.88% of forests are excellently or well preserved.

Private forest owners, however, warn that the EU is 'punishing' Croatia for the good state of its forests and that its strategies, which are based on the EU Green Deal, will negatively affect forest management sustainability because they give priority to the environmental aspect over the economic and social aspects, which, they say, will cause a drop in production and loss of jobs in the sector.

Saturday, 12 February 2022

Could Croatian Cities Absorb Floods and Have Digitally Managed Buildings?

February the 12th, 2022 - Could Croatian cities ever become flood resistant and be able to be managed entirely digitally? It seems that the future will require that as climate change and the digital transformation play ever bigger roles in our lives.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Darko Bicak writes, although experts at the global level cannot all totally agree on the dynamics and scale of climate change that will affect the Earth and human society as we go forward, it is undeniable that the climate is changing and that there are growing dangers from natural disasters each and every year.

While estimates of what will happen at the global level are mostly of a principled nature, at the micro level, so when speaking about a particular region or city, there is a very significant need to make and test out vulnerability models.

This was the topic of the recently held hybrid conference of the Association of Cities - Energy Sustainable Islands. Sanja Polonijo, an expert in communal economy, pointed out that natural extremes - cold, heat, storms, torrential floods and sea changes - are becoming more frequent and having longer lasting effects.

"The Mediterranean is warming 20 percent faster than the rest of the world is, and by the year 2040 its average temperature is expected to rise by 2.2 degrees Celsius. Projections also say that by the year 2100, the sea level will rise from anywhere between 65 and 110 centimetres.

"It is expected that floods, at least as of 2050, may become common annual occurrences, and most of the city's communal infrastructure has been built for old sea levels," Polonijo said.

She explained that the city's infrastructure must, except through the traditional approach of the so-called Grey infrastructure, which includes a quality water supply and drainage network, be based on the so-called ''green and blue infrastructure'' that represents an interdisciplinary approach that mimics the hydrological regime. This means that Croatian cities, many of them not just aged but ancient, will certainly need to adapt.

In this way, the problems that arise are solved in the long run - for example, if the drainage systems are made for rain, and the sea level rises near them, then seawater enters the entire system.

There has been a proposition of models for cities where impermeable surfaces would be transformed into permeable ones through tree lines, green roofs and walls, rain gardens and bioretencies. In this way, problems with rising temperatures during the hot summer months can be more easily solved, as those temperatures can be 10 degrees higher in Croatian cities than in the quieter suburbs.

"The most endangered areas with very little greenery can be ''greened up'' through a so-called urban heat island - planted trees provide shade, protection from the wind, shade for buildings, a cooling effect with evaporation, reduce flood risk and even lessen the noise.

Professor Mario Vasak from the Zagreb Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing warned of the importance of digital transformation of Croatian cities to become Smart Cities because it will be much easier to respond to the challenges posed by climate change, but also social and market changes.

It is necessary to make some decisions even before the start of investments in terms of building management - what capacity of the solar power possibilities to choose for a particular building, what should the capacity of the tank be, how we can plan water pumping in advance, how much flexibility to offer consumers... the whole building management system can take place in real time and act in accordance with our current needs,'' said Vasak.

He added that all this will lead to reduced operating costs, higher energy efficiency and increased levels of user comfort. “Perhaps the best example is the FER building, which covers an area of ​​about 10,000 square metres and has 248 offices and where IT has been implemented all of the existing building's automation system. After the introduction of the system, heating costs fell by 10 percent, from 336.9 euros to 302.6 euros per day, and for cooling, costs fell by as much as 18 percent, from 176.6 euros per day to 144.8 euros,'' said Vasak.

He added that similar models can be set up for larger units, such as streets, neighbourhoods or entire Croatian cities through Smart City solutions, and the fastest to implement and the greatest current effects are modernisation and the proper management of public lighting.

For more, check our our lifestyle section.

Saturday, 13 November 2021

Climate Marchers Urge Government To Finally Take Action

ZAGREB, 13 Nov, 2021 - About 300 people marched through central Zagreb on Friday evening calling on the government to finally start acting on climate change by closing down the coal-fired thermal power plant Plomin.

The Climate March for Survival was organised by the youth initiative Fridays for Future Croatia and Extinction Rebellion Zagreb, which are part of the global movement to protect life on Earth. The march was organised on the last day of the COP26 UN climate conference in Glasgow.

Demonstrators carried placards saying "Time is running out", "Systemic change, not climate change", "Shorten the working week", "Wellbeing, not profit", "Healthy environment, not profit" and "If the planet was a bank, you would have saved it already."

"The purpose of this campaign is to send a message to the Croatian government to start acting on the climate emergency. We will present three demands and the first one is the urgent closure of Plomin, the only active coal-fired thermal power plant in Croatia which has absolutely no grounds to continue operating," Leonarda Šmigmator of Fridays for Future Croatia told the press.

"It is interesting that Prime Minister Andrej Plenković announced at the COP26 conference in Glasgow that Plomin would be closed down as late as 2033, while at the same time 40 countries pledged to stop using coal as an energy source. This means that Croatia is lagging behind again," she said, adding that Plomin workers should be allowed to retrain for work in other industries.

Šmigmator pointed out that the march participants demand that the climate change issue should be included in primary and secondary school curricula and that the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development should start communicating with scientists and involving them in its decisions.

Commenting on COP26, she said that the conference has disappointed everyone and that great expectations have not been fulfilled.

Among the marchers were Workers Front MP Katarina Peović with her daughter, trade union leader Krešimir Sever with  his son, New Left member of the Zagreb City Council Rada Borić, ombudsman Tena Šimonović Einwalter, presidential adviser on energy and climate Julije Domac, and Nikola Briškov from the Scientists for Climate initiative and ambassador and EU Climate Pact ambassador.

For more on lifestyle, follow TCN's dedicated page.

For more about Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Friday, 12 November 2021

Nearly 8 in 10 Croats in Favour of Taxing Products That Contribute to Global Warming

ZAGREB, 12 Nov 2021  -  As many as 64% of respondents in Croatia support stricter government measures that will make people change their behaviour in an attempt to overcome climate crisis, according to a survey conducted by the European Investment Bank (EIB) in cooperation with the BVA pollster.

The opinion polls show that 64% of the respondents in Croatia are in favour of "strict government measures imposing changes on people’s behaviour to fight climate change," while 70% of EU citizens and 73% of Britons are also in favour of such measures.

Furthermore, 78% of Croatians welcome the adoption of a tax on products and services that contribute most to global warming, according to the results of the fourth EIB Climate Survey conducted among more than 30,000 respondents in 30 countries from 26 August to 22 September this year.

In Croatia, three quarters of the respondents believe that climate change and its consequences are the biggest challenge in this century. Also, 85% believe they are more concerned about the climate emergency than their government.

Furthermore, 84% of the Croatians believe that climate change affects their everyday lives, and 81% are in favour of using renewable energy to help overcome the climate emergency, as against the EU average of 63%.

For more news, CLICK HERE.

Thursday, 11 November 2021

Croatia Drops in Climate Change Performance Index

ZAGREB, 11 Nov, 2021 - Croatia ranks 28th in the Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) for 2022, slipping 10 places from last year, while Denmark, Sweden and Norway top the ranking.

Croatia adopted its national long-term strategies in June 2021. The country continues to rely on fossil fuels and is the only EU member state without a clear coal phase-out plan. Overall, the CCPI experts do not see Croatia’s targets as sufficient, the Croatian Society For Sustainable Development Design (DOOR) said in a statement on Thursday.

Success in climate change action is assessed in four categories, and Croatia scored poorly in two of them - greenhouse gas emissions and energy use. It scored high on renewable energy and achieved medium success in the climate policy category.

Croatia placed 11th on the use of renewable energy sources, reflecting a general trend of increasing the installation of systems using renewables in the public and private sector. It ranked 26th on climate policy.

No country performs well enough in all index categories to achieve an overall very high rating, CCPI said.

Denmark is this year's top performer, thanks to a considerable reduction in the use of coal over the past 20 years and a shift to renewable energy sources, which now account for 30 per cent of its energy supply. 

In Europe, the worst performers are Hungary (53rd), Poland (52nd), the Czech Republic (51st) and Slovenia (50th). Globally, Australia, one of the biggest coal exporters in the world, ranked 58th.

The Netherlands is among the countries with the biggest improvements, climbing up 10 spots to 19th place, while Norway is the first country to receive a very high rating in the renewable energy category.  

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Monday, 1 November 2021

Plenković: Climate Change Must Become Main Political Topic

ZAGREB, 1 Nov 2021 - Climate change must become the main political topic, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said at a UN conference on climate change in Glasgow on Monday.

The two-week COP26 conference brought together 120 state leaders expected to agree on new initiatives on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and slowing down the temperature increase.

"This must become one of our main political topics," Plenković said, adding that Croatia "is not a problem" because it has the fourth-lowest harmful gas emissions per capita in Europe.

"The problem is the big countries whose industry, traffic, and agriculture contribute a lot to carbon dioxide emissions," said Plenković, who will address the conference on Tuesday.

He said he saw the conference as a way to raise awareness of climate change, notably among the young population which "deserves a future" such as the one older generations had.

Plenković said the current political generation had the responsibility to take a step forward when it came to climate change and that the leaders who came to Glasgow were aware of the climate emergency. 

"It's something that's here, before us," he said, adding that politicians "didn't come to walk around Glasgow but to make a contribution."

He said it was "a pity" that representatives of China and Russia were not present, adding that "they have their policies" on attending international conferences in times of COVID-19.

On the fringes of the conference, Plenković met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

For more on politics, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 4 August 2021

Salty Adriatic Sea: New Research Raises Concerns

Aug 5, 2021 -The salty Adriatic Sea became saltier in 2017, and even in 2021, the salinity levels are the highest ever recorded, warns the Ruđer Bošković Institute (IRB).

With known salty areas such as Pag, you would expect the Adriatic sea to be very salty, and it is. However, over the years, it has become even saltier, as the Ruđer Bošković Institute (IRB) stated.

As the IRB wrote in a press release, a Croatian scientific team collaborating with their Italian colleagues published a study that shows so far unrecorded levels of salinity in the Adriatic. Their work was published in the prestigious Frontiers in Marine Science Magazine titled ''Observation, Preconditioning, and Recurrence of Exceptionally High Salinities in the Adriatic Sea“.

As the IRB explained, it was in 2017 around Palagruža where the Adriatic sea's salinity reached a record of 39.1 per mille.

''In addition, with minor oscillations, the high salinity in the first 200 metres of depth was kept within the central part of the southern Adriatic, and it has remained the case until today. For example, at this moment, the salinity levels in the central part of the southern Adriatic is over 38.8 per mille in the whole water gauge, and 39.15 per mille by the surface,'' added the IRB.

This measurement was the lead for the scientists to conduct further research that incorporated various available data acquired via multiparameter probes, autonomous ARGO buoys, remote-controlled submarines, and satellites that measure sea level's surface. The data from an oceanographic model of the Mediterranean sea (which combines satellite and other measures, thus giving the most quality 3D view of the oceanographic field) was also used.

Sure enough, the salinity rise has been explained. On one hand, the enhanced flow from the Middle East and the Ionian sea are to blame, but on the other, there are changes in the Adriatic sea itself.

''The processes (in the Adriatic sea) occur on a scale of several days to a decade, and have four key elements,'' they explained from IRB.

The first one concerns Adriatic-Ionian bi-modal oscillation affecting physical and biogeochemical conditions in the Adriatic through a period of 5-10 years, which, in the last decade, has caused a serious influx of salt and oligotrophic waters (waters which are too low in nutrients to support life).

The second process concerns low river flows due to the low amount of rainfall, while the third process concerns the enhanced amount of solar energy on the sea's surface during summer and early autumn. Finally, with the weather warmer than average and with very little wind, the water gauge is divided into the hotter surface level and colder central and bottom levels. This leads to the fourth process that includes vaporising and the loss of water from the sea surface.

''Three out of four of the aforementioned processes have already been documented in the Mediterranean as a consequence of climate change that in the future will bring warmer, drier summers and as a consequence, more heat and the higher salinity of the sea surface,'' they warned from IRB. They added that this is a threat to marine life which depends on the temperature, the level of salinity, and other factors that will be sabotaged with these changes.

With the Adriatic sea and its marine life being one of the treasures Croatia has, the global response to climate change must start giving results as fast as possible, and Croatia cannot afford to miss out on contributing for the sake of the country and the world in general.

Learn more about beaches in Croatia on our TC page.

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

Thursday, 15 July 2021

Croatia to Receive €1.4 bn From New EU Climate Action Social Fund

ZAGREB, 15 July 2021 - The European Commission on Wednesday proposed the establishment of a new climate action social fund to help citizens to finance financial investments in energy efficiency, new heating, and cooling systems, and cleaner mobility, and up to €1.4 billion is proposed for Croatia for the period 2025-2032.

On Wednesday, the European Commission unveiled a major package of legislative proposals that should reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030. The "Fit for 55" package is a key element of the European Green Deal, which envisions the EU becoming climate neutral by 2050. In order to achieve that goal, it is estimated that by 2030 the greenhouse gas emissions will have to be reduced by at least 55% compared to 1990.

"While in the medium- to long-term, the benefits of EU climate policies clearly outweigh the costs of this transition, climate policies risk putting extra pressure on vulnerable households, micro-enterprises, and transport users in the short run," the EC wrote on its website, among other things.

"A new Social Climate Fund is proposed to provide dedicated funding to the Member States to help citizens finance investments in energy efficiency, new heating, and cooling systems, and cleaner mobility. The Social Climate Fund would be financed by the EU budget, using an amount equivalent to 25% of the expected revenues of emissions trading for building and road transport fuels. It will provide €72.2 billion of funding to the Member States, for the period 2025-2032, based on a targeted amendment to the multiannual financial framework," the EC said.

The Commission proposes a key for the distribution of the funds among member states which would take into account the percentage of the rural population and the level of energy poverty. Financing will be available to all member states, but the largest share will go to the countries with higher levels of energy poverty.

Croatia should get up to €1.4 billion, which is 1.4% of the total amount of the fund.

The highest amount, of €12.7 billion or 17.61% of the fund, has been earmarked for Poland.

In order to withdraw money from the fund, member states will have to draw up precise plans with measures to help the vulnerable population to invest in the energy renovation of buildings and to encourage the use of electric cars.

Half of the amount set in the plan would be financed from the European climate action social fund, and the other half would be co-financed by the member states.

Under the new plan that proposes Effort Sharing Regulation for member-states, Croatia is expected to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by 16.7% in the sector of buildings, road and domestic maritime transport, agriculture, waste, and small industries s in 2030 in relation to its 2005 levels.

Member-states share responsibility for removing carbon from the atmosphere

The Commission says that "The Member States also share responsibility for removing carbon from the atmosphere, so the Regulation on Land Use, Forestry and Agriculture sets an overall EU target for carbon removals by natural sinks, equivalent to 310 million tons of CO2 emissions by 2030."

National targets will require the Member States to care for and expand their carbon sinks to meet this target. By 2035, the EU should aim to reach climate neutrality in the land use, forestry, and agriculture sectors, including also agricultural non-CO2 emissions, such as those from fertilizer use and livestock.

Under this regulation, Croatia's contribution is to remove 5,527 kilotonnes of CO2.

For more about Croatia, CLICK HERE.

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, 28 June 2021

Is Climate Change Bringing Strange Fish to Northern Adriatic Sea?

June the 28th, 2021 - Climate change is a threat to us all and the vast majority of people are now more than aware of that, minding their carbon footprint and trying to recycle and reuse as much as they possibly can. The Northern Adriatic sea, however, keeps turning up some unexpected finned visitors.

As Morski writes, there are many different types of fish in the Croatian Adriatic sea that are very, very rarely caught, or are not present all over the Adriatic, and so they confuse fishermen with their colours, weight or appearance. Such was the case with the catch of Andrej Andrija Vajdic, whose catch, when placed on social media, resulted in many attempts at determining just what this fish was. Most of those guesses were unfortunately completely wrong.

''After just a few minutes, I got a bite on the line and the fish started pulling down very hard. After a short fight with it, I took it out, and saw a fish I wasn't sure about. I learned that the locals call it an arrow, and it does have that sort of face...''

Here is what Andrej said about his unusual catch in the Northern Adriatic sea:

''As I live in inland Croatia, I'm not often given the opportunity to go sea fishing. I mostly fish only when on holiday, which was the case this year as well. A colleague from work was on holiday in southern Dalmatia at the same time, which was a great opportunity for a little competition - who would catch better fish.

As I was on holiday in Praputnjak, I went fishing in Bakar every day. During the first few days the catch was reduced to standard fish, but on the last day it shifted a bit. At the end of that day, I decided to just go for a short evening and try fishing until the next opportunity came,'' says Andrej.

''I re-set the rod and on the same principle caught three more of the same weird sort of fish. I also learned that the ''arrow'' is usually harder to catch because of its fast movement, which is why this holiday will remain in my special memory. Of course, my colleague undoubtedly lost in our small competition,'' Andrej said.

The fish that Andrej caught is a blue arrow (Trachinotus ovatus, Linnaeus, 1758), a fish from the same family, Carangidae, to which somr of the most famous faces among sea fish belong. It is most numerous in the Southern Adriatic, but due to global warming it is more numerous in the Northern Adriatic sea. Otherwise the blue arrow may grow to a maximum of 70 inches in length.

The first time this species of fish was found was at Zlatni rat on the island of Brac, far from Northern Adriatic sea waters.

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