Tuesday, 14 January 2020

550 Croatian Scientists Sign Climate Action Appeal

ZAGREB, January 14, 2020 - Representatives of 550 Croatian scientists who signed the Appeal for Systematic Climate Action on Tuesday presented it to the government, parliament and Ministry of Environment and Energy.

The scientists claim that the current climate change is an emergency and the most serious and most complex crisis that mankind has ever been exposed to. That is why, with this appeal, they call on the relevant institutions to launch concrete and ambitious measures to deal with the problem.

All the graphs we get indicate that we are close to the dangerous limit of climate change when there won't be any chance of going back, Nikola Biliškov from the Ruđer Bošković Institute told a press conference outside Government House.

Scientists have pointed out very ambitious action on a global level with concrete objectives: to radically reduce carbon dioxide emissions so that this year they reach their maximum and then be reduced by 45% by 2030, while emissions should be entirely eliminated by 2050, Biliškov explained.

The appeal is a call on the legislative and executive authorities to adopt and implement ambitious policies as a precondition for systematically dealing with the climate crisis. Those policies need to be based on scientific research and lead to the development of efficient technical solutions to alleviate and adapt to climate change.

More science news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 7 January 2020

Split 'Green Guerrilla' Planting Trees Illegally in Croatian Park Marjan

While most Split residents are asleep, members of the secret Split-based Green Guerilla direct action group covertly roam Marjan Forest Park with seedlings in hand, planting trees to help the city’s lungs breathe. They claim that everything they do is in collaboration with top forestry experts.

In addition to the Aleppo pine, they plant oak and cypress. However, they do not want to reveal how many trees they have planted so far and where, according to Ivana Perkovic/Dalmacija Danas on January 6, 2020.

The Split based group call themselves Green Guerrilla and their activities, although illegal, have met with widespread public approval. Nevertheless, some have wondered if these people might have better things they could be doing. Here's what they have to say:

To begin with: Split residents are interested in knowing; who are you and why did you organize?

We are a group of Marjan fans from Split who are tired of watching the destruction of life going on in the park. We have had enough of pillaging by the political elite, in which green spaces and trees in Marjan are being transformed into timber and are becoming prey to political calculation.

Some have wondered if you might have better things to do with your lives. Why did you begin planting right now?

For too long, those in charge have been saying that the afforestation process is set to begin. But they stand around with their hands in their pockets and prolong this process and pace it with campaigns for upcoming local elections. We’ve waited long enough, and it is a shame that the fate of Marjan is being decided by people who are calling the survival of vegetation into question. After a couple of years of delays, the forest has not been rehabilitated according to the agreed-upon method, and chopping down thousands of healthy trees cannot be called remediation. The real word that describes what has happened in Marjan is ‘criminal.’

Do you have experience in planting? What you say about statements by Damir Grubšić (JUPŠM/Public Institute for Marjan Forest Management) that you are doing more harm than good?

We are doing everything according to instructions from top forestry experts who wish to remain anonymous because they fear for their jobs. We would love to hear about what a shame it is to plant an oak, pine or cypress in the forest. If he is looking for pests in Marjan, he should first look at his current assistant and former director, Robert Koharević, and then at some other anomalies in the Public Institute. The real Marjan pests are those who illegally paved green areas and those who allowed them to are going unpunished while they remain in the city administration and Public Institute.

Are you afraid of being caught?

If one of us is caught, we will stand as one in solidarity and demand to be punished together. But we will also seek sanctions for those who have illegally harvested more than 20,000 Marjan trees, as determined by the State Forestry Inspectorate, and sanctions for those who have looked after Marjan in this manner.


Green Guerrilla | Facebook

Are you planning to plant trees in large areas or just a symbolic number? How many trees have you planted so far?

That will remain our secret.

Will you respond to Mirko Rušić's invitation to plant trees when he officially begins the afforestation project?

We will not, because we do not want to work with a person who is unskilled, uneducated and unqualified to perform forestry work and, above all, a person who participated in the illegal felling of more than 20,000 Marjan trees.

We will only respond to an invitation to plant trees from an authorized forester. That person must stand up for afforestation, put his name behind it, and be responsible for all forestry efforts spanning the entire Marjan Forest Park protected area, which has already been slated for afforestation by the spatial plan and management program. Well, Marjan has been without a major forestry planning document for a year now. Should we be expecting an invite from someone who we can thank for putting Marjan in this situation?

You say that you are doing this "in defiance of those who would build and not plant on Marjan." Do you think that they are really trying to destroy the forest so that apartments and hotels will pop up on Marjan?

It’s not a matter of that we think. Parts of Marjan Forest Park have already been irreversibly destroyed by the unplanned and illegal construction of hotels and apartments, and now there are plans to build new cafes. Recent changes to spatial plans have been announced and who knows what else is happening in Kašuni, Kaštelet and Prva voda.

It has been officially confirmed that 75 buildings have been illegally built in this protected area, part of which is being used for apartments. There won’t be any peace while there are construction sites in the park forest, illegal construction continues, and the commercialization of Marjan is put ahead of its protection in the minds of those responsible.

How would you respond if someone started to harvest the trees you planted?

Trees cannot harm anyone, so destroying them would mean that they want war with well-meaning Split residents. If they want war with residents, they will have one, and a bigger tree will replace every tree that is removed. We will also make sure that the news of this behavior is spread beyond Croatia’s borders. This is at a critical time when the whole world is working on afforestation due to climate change, which has occurred due to the destruction of forests.


After the Aleppo pine, it was time to plant an indigenous oak and there was also a spot for a cypress. In view of yesterday's news story RTL Danas, we would like to address the statements of Mirko Rušić, President of the Marjan Commission, Deputy Coordinator of the Crisis Staff, and President of the Governing Board of JUPŠ Marjan:

Green Guerrilla documents several potential sites prior to planting, and then, in communication with forestry experts, selects planting sites for species proposed by the foresters themselves. Green Guerrilla, unlike the Marjan Commission and the Crisis Staff who have been left without professionals, has foresters who are happy to tell us what, where, how and when.

Increased patrols by the JUPŠ Marjan rangers are welcome. Perhaps they will now notice the illegal construction, pyromaniacs and other problems in Marjan, which have passed under their radar so far. The trees will continue to sprout either by our own hands or naturally, and no one can claim that any new tree is not part of a plan or program because we’ll remind them of the management program and afforestation plan.

It is a shameful for the team, held responsible by the State Forestry Inspectorate for devastating this forest, to deliberately delay the afforestation process as an election campaign nears. Greetings from the Green Guerrilla. While you p*** we will continue to plant. If you love Marjan get rid of the f****** construction sites in Marjan Forest Park rather than condemning and trying to find us.

Check out our Lifestyle page for more information on efforts (legal and illegal) to protect the environment in Croatia. Updates on Green Guerrilla's activites can be found here.

Thursday, 12 December 2019

MEP Picula: Rural Areas and Islands Also Included in Green Deal

ZAGREB, December 12, 2019 - Over the next two years the EU will provide an additional 4 million euro to finance the transition of rural areas and islands to clean energy sources, following an initiative by Croatian MEP Tonino Picula. Through the European Green Deal, currently the most important EU document, the European Commission has decided to focus special attention on rural areas and islands, bearing in mind their exposure to climate change and natural disasters as well as the extraordinary potential for a transition to renewable energy sources that they have, Picula's office said in a press release on Thursday.

Seven months ago, Picula put forward two amendments to the EU budget, each worth 2 million euro. One concerned his initiative for the transition of islands to clean energy sources, which he launched four years ago, while the other proposed applying the same model to rural areas.

After an evaluation by the Commission and lengthy negotiations within the European Parliament and with the Council, the amendments have also been adopted through the EU budgets for 2020 and 2021.

As many as ten Croatian Adriatic islands, namely Cres, Ilovik, Lošinj, Male Srakane, Velike Srakane, Susak, Unije, Brač, Hvar and Korčula, are currently implementing preparatory projects for the transition to clean energy.

More island news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 4 December 2019

European Greens Expect Croatia Not to Hamper EU's Green Transition

ZAGREB, December 4, 2019 - Croatia does not stand out in the EU in terms of focusing on environmental policies but the European Greens expect it not to hamper the green transition during its presidency of the Council of the EU, the co-chair of the Greens/European Free Alliance (Greens/EFA) group in the European Parliament, Philippe Lamberts, said ahead of his visit to Zagreb.

European Parliament President David Sassoli and leaders of all political groups in the European Parliament will pay an official visit to Zagreb on Thursday to discuss with Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and government members the priorities of Croatia's EU presidency in the first half of next year.

Green topics are evidently not the focus of the Croatian presidency, Lamberts remarked in an interview with Hina.

If we want the von der Leyen Commission to be successful, all member countries will have to accept the green transition, even if they did not do it earlier, he said.

Croatia has an abundance of sun and wind compared to Belgium and one would expect, considering that it is a Mediterranean country, that it would focus on renewable energy sources, however, its energy policy is still mostly based on energy from fossil sources, Lamberts said, noting that this meant that the green awareness was not very much present among Croatian governments.

This is evidenced by other issues that Croatia is struggling with, such as waste management. If you want to go green, you have to deal with the issue of waste, starting with its reduction and maximum possible recycling, Lamberts said, noting that as far as he could understand, that had not been one of the priorities of Croatian governments so far.

He noted that one should not overestimate member states' possibilities in shaping the EU presidency.

Presidency is primarily about the role of an organiser and a fair mediator, Lamberts said, expressing hope that the Croatian government and administration would act accordingly.

He went on to say that he was of the impression that the Andrej Plenković government would perform well, that he was satisfied Plenković had a pro-European orientation but that he was always wary of any form of nationalism and was aware that the ruling HDZ party was known as the main Croatian nationalist party. He added that he was also aware that lately the HDZ had become more pro-European and said that he welcomed it.

Lamberts also said that the Greens would continue to ask the Commission to stop supporting the project to build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal on the northern Adriatic island of Krk.

The position of the Greens is that any support from public sources should not be spent on energy from fossil sources. That does not mean that such energy should be banned overnight, but public money should be entirely invested in the transition towards green energies. If Croatia has projects related to sun, wind or similar energy, the Greens will strongly support their financing from the European budget but will not do so with regard to energy from fossil sources, Lamberts said, explaining his party group's opposition to the Krk LNG terminal project.

At a plenary session in November the Greens in the European Parliament abstained from a vote on the new European Commission, led by Ursula von der Leyen.

The Greens/European Free Alliance is the fourth largest political group in the European Parliament, holding 74 of 751 seats.

More news about Croatia and the EU can be found in the Politics section.

Saturday, 30 November 2019

Climate Activists Stage Protest Outside Government Offices

ZAGREB, November 30, 2019 - Climate activists rallied outside the government offices in Zagreb on Friday calling on the government to adopt urgent and ambitious measures to limit the effects of climate change.

Representatives of the protesters were received by the prime minister's chief of staff, Zvonimir Frka Petešić, and his associates. The protest coordinator Leonarda Smigmator said that they presented their demands and vision and that Petešić said he would try to ensure that their demands were met.

Addressing the protesters, Smigmator said that the new European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen had announced in her inauguration address that she would focus on an ambitious climate programme so that European could be the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. She said that the progress Croatia was making in this regard was miserable.

Smigmator called on politicians to translate their words not just into strategies and plans but also into concrete projects to save the climate.

The protest was organised in Zagreb and Osijek by the youth initiative FridaysForFuture Croatia. The organisers announced a clean-up campaign on the section of Split's Bačvice Beach intended for disabled people, on Saturday November 30.

More environmental protection news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Sunday, 17 November 2019

Life After a Brutal Jugo Wind: The Adriatic Sea Speaks

November 17, 2019 - A brutal jugo wind has been battering the Adriatic coast in recent days. With calm returning, some of the contents of the Adriatic have been left as souvenirs on the mainland.

I wouldn't describe myself as an environmentalist at all, but anyone with an ounce of common sense watching over the 'development' of the Adriatic coast can see that there is clearly something very wrong. 

Numbers, numbers, numbers - a record number of tourists a record number of overnight stays, apparently. And a record number (I would guess) of something that nobody is talking about officially, or putting an actual figure on. 

Environmental damage of, among other things, the main jewel that Croatia has to offer with its tourism - the pristine Adriatic Sea. 

jugo-adriatic-trash (3).jpg

(Photo credit Ivica Trojenovic / Peljesac i Politika - a beach near Orebic)

As we have reported these last few days, a brutal jugo wind has hit the Adriatic coast and islands, bringing spectacular scenes for us to enjoy in the comfort of our homes around the world. 

And leaving plenty of trash in its wake, all along the coast. 

I have never been one to sensationalise things, as it is a very longterm strategy, but it is clear that all is not well with Croatian tourism's relationship with its prized jewel. The lack of sensationalism is what led me to approach a respected marine biologist academic for her views on the state of the Adriatic, and I am grateful to Dr. Ana Bratos Cetinic from the Department of Aquaculture from the University of Dubrovnik for her very in-depth and detailed interview for TCN recently - Mass Tourism, Climate & Plastic: Marine Biologist on Cost to Adriatic. Of the many thought-provoking things Dr. Ana said in the interview, the answer to how many Mediterranean monk seals were in the Adriatic is the one that stayed with me:

The Mediterranean monk seal is now considered extinct in the Adriatic, but rare sporadic observations of the monk seal have been reported. Those specimens likely belong to the populations outside of the Adriatic, which they visit. Once, there was a relatively abundant Adriatic species which has given way to increasing human pressure and deterioration of their habitats which, actually, belong to nautical tourists these days.

And while the monk seals sadly have no voice and are increasingly invisible to the point of extinction, there is one thing in the Adriatic and other seas which is increasingly abundant and visible - trash. 

Quite how much trash has been deposited by cruise ships and sailboats, in addition to that washed up by tides from Albania is not known, but in the last few days, the jugo wind gave the Adriatic Sea a chance to give us a reminder. From a tourism point of view, the 'good' news is that it happened in November, giving the authorities plenty of time to clean up before the next season. The bad news is that unless serious action is taken, this will be a much more common occurrence. 

jugo-adriatic-trash (1).jpg

This week's jugo wind trash gifts are far from unique. The above image was widely circulated in the Croatian media this week, but a little research shows it is from earlier this year. Which makes it no less shocking. 

Numbers, numbers, numbers. The Kings of Accidental Tourism are busy celebrating alleged record numbers. Would they or their relevant ministerial counterparts care to comment on the following:

1. While revenues generated FROM tourism will soon be published, I have yet to see any costs caused BY tourism - utilities, infrastructure, waste management - can we have some transparent information, please?

2. We hear great news about tourism expanding, less so about infrastructure built to cope with that increased demand. Can we have more transparency, including information on waste treatment and what we are pouring into the Adriatic?

3. Is there a plan to deal with the environmental effects of this huge increase in tourism? Can we see it if it exists?

4. Is there a study on the benefits of cruise ship tourism versus the environmental costs? Can we see it if it exists?

5. If the answer questions 3 and 4 above is no, why not? 


Monday, 11 November 2019

Urban Areas Need New Green Spaces and Policies

ZAGREB, November 11, 2019 - Construction Minister Predrag Štromar on Monday said that Croatia's target would be to reduce CO2 emissions by 2030 and to improve its energy efficiency in urban areas with more green spaces and green policies.

Opening the "Green future for cities" conference, Štromar informed that a national development strategy to 2030 was being prepared with the aim of making the "Green Croatia" development for a better quality of living standards.

"We are working on the strategy from 2020 to 2030 on how to reduce CO2 emissions and how to improve energy efficiency and how to create better living conditions for our citizens," Štromar underscored, explaining that the focus would first be on large urban areas where new green areas and green policies can achieve those objectives.

"Until now most of the money was used for energy efficiency. Currently there are 1,400 building that have been reconstructed or are under reconstruction. We have warm and safe homes, more comfortable classrooms, teaching staff rooms and health clinics and now we are preparing the next objectives," Štromar explained.

He warned of climate change in the environment and the speed that it is occurring at.

"Croatia is still a comfortable place to live and work, where forests take up almost half of its territory and with a low population density which presents excellent natural conditions for human living. Climate change however, is unavoidable even in Croatia," he added.

"It is our responsibility for our actions to be directed toward sustainable development," he concluded.

More news about environmental protection in Croatia can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Friday, 1 November 2019

Environmental Protection Isn't Expensive, Says German Greens Official in Zagreb

ZAGREB, November 1, 2019 - Environmental policies are not expensive for citizens, the vice president of the German Greens party, Jamila Schaefer, said in Zagreb on Thursday.

The social and environmental policies are not opposed to each other, she said at a panel on climate change. Why don't we use public money to prevent natural disasters that are related to climate change, she asked.

Critics of green policies say workers will pay for the bulk of the switch to a circular economy, but Schaefer said Greens were winning over more and more trade unions for their ideas and that environmental policies should be pursued by investing in sustainable industries and by penalising polluting industries.

She is against building an LNG terminal on the Croatian island of Krk. We Greens are totally against investing in past technologies, she said.

Industries which damage the environment should become non-profitable through taxation, Schaefer said, adding that the burden of new taxes would be offset by revenue from CO2 tax, which would be redistributed to the population.

To profit in an unsustainable way will become non-profitable. We must preserve our life resources. That's more important than profit, she said.

Tomislav Tomašević of the We Can! platform said the problem was that the climate issue was seen as elitist. Our job is to change that perception among the rural population as they will lose the most to climate change, he added.

Croatian Peasant Party vice president Hrvoje Petrić said that in Croatia, outside cities, climate change was not recognised as a big problem.

It's not an issue we can resolve within borders but as Europeans and as people, said Schaefer.

More news about environmental protection can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Thursday, 31 October 2019

Greens: Climate Change Should Be Priority of 2020 EU Presidency

ZAGREB, October 31, 2019 - The president of Croatia's ORaH party, Antun Petrović, and the international secretary of the German Greens, Jamila Schaefer, said on Thursday it was extremely important that climate change remained a priority in chairing the European Union in 2020.

Speaking at a joint press conference, Petrović said he hoped that "A Europe that protects", one of the four key areas on which, according to the government, the Croatian presidency of the Council of the EU will be based, meant protection of the environment, climate and human rights, and not the external border, ORaH said in a press release.

The two parties expect the Croatian and German governments to continue next year the trend set by Finland during its presidency and set climate change as one of their EU presidency priorities.

ORaH said Schaefer arrived in Croatia to discuss cooperation, but also to check the human rights situation in the wake of reports of inappropriate police treatment of migrants on the border.

The common task of the EU is that the governments of all member states protect human rights and check all credible reports on violations, Schaefer said.

She warned that climate change knew no national borders and that slowing it down required coordinated action by all European countries, ORaH said.

More news about environmental protection can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Friday, 4 October 2019

Protest for Protection of Forests to Be Held in Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro

ZAGREB, October 4, 2019 - A protest for the protection of forests will be held on Saturday, October 5, when an alert will be simultaneously sounded at noon on Zagreb's Mt. Medvednica, Mt. Fruška Gora in Serbia, and Mt. Durmitor in Montenegro, the Zeleni Odred (Green Squad) Croatian nongovernmental organisation said.

Three nongovernmental organisations, Zeleni Odred from Croatia, Čuvari/ke Fruške Gore (Guardians of Fruška Gora) from Serbia and the Coalition for the Sustainable Development of Montenegro, signed an international agreement on cooperation in the protection of forests in Ruma, Serbia, on September 14.

The protest on Mt Medvednica will be held at the Risnjak climbers' lodging.

"Serious disruptions of the forest structure and stability are dangerous. Forest protection is usually needed when forest management is jeopardised, when the use of valuable forest products in under threat," says Zeleni Odred, which claims that not enough is being done to protect forests in Croatia.

Such trends have been present for years and the situation is the same in neighbouring countries, the activists claim.

They recall that they have been working for the last year and a half on collecting evidence on who is responsible for the poor state of Croatian forests and that a lawsuit will soon be completed.

"The names of the politicians, corrupt employees of the Hrvatske Šume forest management company, the owners of sawmills and corrupt police officials in some communities are on a list that has been submitted to judicial institutions," the activists say, noting that in a discussion on an EU forest strategy at the start of this year, Croatia was mentioned, along with Romania, in the negative context of illegal logging.

More news about environmental protection can be found in the Lifestyle section.

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