Friday, 22 April 2022

Earth Day 2022 - Environmental Protection Fund's Public Calls Worth 96 Million

April 22, 2022 - Marks the 50th Earth Day. Our beautiful planet is facing many problems, the biggest, of course, being climate change whose effects we can all see and feel happening. The race is on, the world's leaders are discussing change, some things are moving along, but is it enough? Earthday.org calls to action saying that "we need to act (boldly), innovate (broadly), and implement (equitably)". Google celebrates bees.

In Croatia, as Index writes, The Environmental Protection and Energy Efficiency Fund announces three public calls totaling 96 million kuna to co-finance environmental projects related to climate change, biodiversity protection and waste management.

The first call is worth HRK 20 million and is intended for facilities owned by the Republic of Croatia, units of regional and local self-government or public institutions that finance projects aimed at reducing the consumption of ozone-depleting substances and fluorinated greenhouse gases.

These are projects aimed at replacing existing cooling systems with those that use new technologies and do not damage the ozone layer, and at the same time are more energy efficient. For an individual project, it is possible to receive up to 1.2 million kuna, or up to 100 percent of eligible costs. The goal is to facilitate the transition to technologies with a lower impact on climate change, both in terms of global warming potential and energy efficiency.

The second call is intended exclusively for public institutions for the management of national parks and nature parks and other protected parts of nature. 10 million kuna will be co-financed for projects that contribute to the control of the population of several invasive alien species.

Namely, the EU and the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development have identified priority invasive alien species and areas where they need to be urgently removed or controlled in order to prevent their further spread and negative impact on indigenous species and habitats.

These include the small Indian mongoose (Herpestes javanicus auropunctatus), pond slider turtles (Trachemys scripta), spinycheek crayfish (Orconectes limosus), signal crayfish (Pacifastacus leniusculus), the Ludwigia alpseima and Ailanthus altissima, also known as tree of heaven.

The third call is to encourage measures for the separate collection of municipal waste by local self-government units and companies and legal or natural persons - trade owners. 66 million kuna has been provided for the improvement of local waste management systems, and the purchase of communal equipment and devices will be co-financed, as well as various citizen education projects. After all, motivated and informed citizens are a key element of any successful system.

"Activities co-financed through the calls are a step towards green transition and only one part of the Fund's planned programs for 2022. By the end of the year, 14 more calls in the field of environmental protection and energy efficiency are expected to be published," the Fund announced.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 8 February 2022

Krk Island Determined to Become Europe’s First Zero Waste Island

February 8th, 2022 - Krk island is on its way to officially join the list of some five hundred European cities and municipalities that have implemented the international Zero Waste strategy

The management of Ponikve, the main utility company on Krk island, recently met with representatives of Zelena akcija (Green Action), an organisation which is working on implementation of the zero waste strategy in Croatia.

Experts of Zelena akcija analysed the waste management system of Krk island and considered which tasks Krk has yet to fulfill in order to position and brand itself as the first zero waste island in the European Union. They discussed this with Ponikve director Neven Hržić and assistant director Ivan Jurešić, reports Novi list/Mladen Trinajstić.

Waste sorting on Krk already has a 60 percent share in overall waste management, according to Jurešić. The population of the biggest Kvarner island has no intention of stopping there, instead planning to achieve even more ambitious goals.

‘Our cooperation with the organisation [Zelena akcija] is part of the project "Transitioning to zero waste Europe, one community at a time", which, as you might remember, our utility company, or rather the island of Krk, joined last year in July when we signed the decision for Krk to adopt the international zero waste strategy’, said Jurešić.

At the meeting, the parties discussed and agreed upon further steps in the implementation of the zero waste model of maximum reduction of waste, as well as reuse and recycling.

‘The recently held meeting gave us an opportunity to go over and agree on some new, additional measures and activities that we will jointly work on in the coming years, all with the aim of meeting the demanding parameters required for the official inclusion of our island in this prestigious European ecological list’, said Jurešić for Novi list.

Among the agreed goals is a reduction of mixed waste generated by the island’s population - including tourists - from 235kg per person (2019) to 150kg per person annually. They also plan for separate waste collection to reach a 70 percent share in overall waste management.

They have also agreed on certain steps to achieve better use of biodegradable waste, and are planning to establish a so-called Centre for Reuse, a facility where prematurely discarded items will be given a new life.

In order to meet these goals, the Ponikve company will work to improve the method of separate waste collection, charge for collection based on the amount of generated mixed waste, increase home composting, open the mentioned centre for reuse, and introduce numerous models to reduce waste generated on the island, all in the coming years. 

Representatives of Zelena akcija consider all the proposed measures feasible, and the agreed goals achievable. They fully expect the local self-government on Krk to meet the set criteria for a zero waste certification.

‘We are pleased with the successful cooperation with the local authorities on Krk island, as they are among the few in our country to have met the goal of separate waste collection in the share of 50 percent by the end of 2020. In cooperation with us they set even more ambitious goals and measures that will help them secure a better quality of life for the island inhabitants, but also put Krk island on the European map of the most successful local communities when it comes to sustainable waste management’, said representatives of Zelena akcija in a statement after the meeting.

 

Thursday, 3 February 2022

Jelsa Tackles Light Pollution in Effort to Become International Dark Sky Community

February 3, 2022 - Harmful outdoor lighting fixtures were removed from a park in the centre of Jelsa, getting the town on Hvar island a step closer to becoming the first International Dark Sky Community in Croatia

The spotlights in question have a colour temperature of 6500 K which is considered detrimental to local wildlife - birds, nocturnal insects, bats, and even plants. They were installed on palm trees in the park and turned upwards, making them a light pollutant of the night sky, reports the Croatian Astronomical Union.

The Croatian Astronomical Union has been collaborating with Jelsa Municipality and the local tourist board for over a year in order to help Jelsa achieve high standards of protection against light pollution. Jelsa is now a step closer to becoming the first International Dark Sky Community in Croatia and south-east Europe at large.

light.jpg

Hrvatski astronomski savez - Facebook

In December 2021, the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) accepted the motion of Jelsa Municipality to be declared an International Dark Sky Community. A few days ago, IDA delivered a favourable opinion and it’s now only a matter of time before Jelsa is granted the coveted title.

As defined by IDA, an International Dark Sky Community is ‘a town, city, municipality or other legally organised community that has shown exceptional dedication to the preservation of the night sky through the implementation and enforcement of a quality outdoor lighting ordinance, dark sky education and citizen support of dark skies. Dark Sky Communities excel in their efforts to promote responsible lighting and dark sky stewardship, and set good examples for surrounding communities.’

 

Friday, 1 October 2021

Solar Energy Conference: Procedures Need to Be Stepped Up

ZAGREB, 1 Oct 2021 - The solar sector is developing very slowly in Croatia even though the price of solar energy has never been lower, hence it is necessary to encourage greater efficiency by the competent institutions and to educate citizens, a two-day solar energy conference on the island of Hvar heard on Friday.

"The price of electricity from solar power plants today is lower than ever but Croatia's solar sector is developing very slowly and the relevant procedures need to be stepped up and people need to be educated," Professor Neven Duić of the Zagreb Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture said at the conference.

The conference, entitled "Days of the Sun", brought together key stakeholders in Croatia's energy transition - members of the academic community, equipment producers, representatives of the banking system, investors, regional and local government officials as well as representatives of state institutions and ministries.

Apart from discussing various financial models for the solar sector and its launching, the conference will discuss the new legislative framework for the green transition, the future of photovoltaic power plants and solar technology in Croatia, innovations and application of solar energy in the business sector, the use of renewable energy sources in agriculture, and the implementation of the EU Green Deal at the national level.

"Local government has an opportunity to be more active in the coming period to inform citizens and promote the use of renewable sources, develop strategies and plans and actively participate in investments... these projects bring concrete benefits that can have a positive effect on the communities they govern," said Maja Jurišić of the Island Movement association, one of the organisers of the conference.

She underscored that renewable energy sources should be treated as a public good.

The director of SolarPower Europe, Walburga Hemetsberger, underscored that the solar energy sector was expected to grow significantly over the next five years, primarily due to the acceptable costs of such projects.

SolarPower Europe is a leading European organisation of stakeholders in the use of solar energy and it comprises research centres, banks, investors, entrepreneurs and others in the solar energy sector.

Tuesday, 27 July 2021

Contracts For Higher Energy Efficiency in Manufacturing Industries Signed

ZAGREB, 27 July, 2021 - Economy Ministry officials on Tuesday presented contracts awarded as part of the HRK 326.3 million public call "Increasing Energy Efficiency and the Use of Renewables in Manufacturing Industries", with the total value of the projects to be implemented standing at HRK 672 million.

340 businesses applied to the call, and 28 - five micro and small businesses, six medium-size businesses and 17 big companies - were awarded money from the EU Competitiveness and Cohesion Fund.

Economy and Sustainable Development Minister Tomislav Ćorić said he expected the companies that were given grants to increase their energy efficiency as well as competitiveness as a result of lower energy consumption and increased production efficiency.

He noted that significant funds were envisaged for that purpose also under the National Recovery and Resilience Plan and that domestic businesses could expect new calls for applications by the end of this year and the beginning of 2022.

The approved grants must be invested in the next one to two years.

As a small, open economy, in the previous decades Croatia mostly exploited its development capacity in the services sector, including tourism, while now national plans and strategies should put special emphasis on manufacturing industries so that the country can catch up with EU standards, Ćorić said, adding that domestic producers could impact export as one of the key variables of the national economy.

"There will be more calls like this one in the period to come," he said.

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

Wednesday, 21 July 2021

Economy Minister Ćorić on EC Plan to Reduce Gas Emissions

ZAGREB, 21 July, 2021 - Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development Tomislav Ćorić on Wednesday spoke of an informal EU meeting of environment ministers in Slovenia on new legislation on climate and the European Commission's recommendation to reduce greenhouse emissions by 55% by 2030 compared to 1990.

He explained at a press conference that this refers to 12 legislative proposals from various areas that are being considered by EU member states in reference to the set objectives.

Ćorić said that this was an important step towards strengthening the EU as a leader in the fight against climate change.

Tax on carbon is a novelty - legislation is very ambitious

Ćorić explained that the new legislation envisages a carbon tax that should protect production in the EU compared to countries that export to the EU but are not encompassed by EU standards and mechanisms.

We are aware that if nothing is done in the next ten years, the potential costs of the damage could be much higher than the costs of transforming economies, he said.

With reference to financing that transformation, Ćorić said that Croatia has more than HRK 60 billion available over the next ten years to be spent in various commercial segments to reduce carbon emissions.

He underscored that the new legislation is very ambitious and a step towards Europe's economic transformation.

Price hikes to be eased with absorbed funds

He said that transition is a huge challenge and is being disputed by some but that it is also a huge opportunity for economies like Croatia through generous allocations of EU funds.

He recalled that Croatia's energy sector has a very small portion reliant on carbon, considering the significant share of hydro-power and potential for renewable sources.

Referring to the announcement for the construction of a new block at the Krško Nuclear Power Plant (NEK) in Slovenia, Ćorić said that that project could take up to a decade to be achieved, adding that Croatia has still not been officially informed of that project.

He recalled that obligations existed under international conventions for projects of that nature with a cross-border impact. Croatia has been advised of extending the lifespan of NEK to 2043.

He underscored that NEK is a stable source of energy and believes that it will continue to be so. He added that his ministry is interested in seeing more formal proposals to see whether Croatia would enter into a partnership with Slovenia regarding the construction of a new block at the Krško plant.

He added that Croatia was monitoring the situation with the Paks Nuclear Power Plant in Hungary because Croatia imports 30 to 45% of energy needs from abroad, depending on the hydrological situation.

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

Saturday, 17 July 2021

Injured Turtle in Korčula Bay: Rescued, Treated, Ready For New Life

July 17, 2021 -  An injured turtle in Korčula Bay sparked immediate action by locals and vets, seeing the turtle being saved and getting a second chance.

Like many other places, towns, locations, and neighborhoods, Korčula also has groups on social media to ease communication among users who share the same place of daily life. Friday afternoon saw residents of Korčula have a big heart, and despite might being stereotypically perceived as laid back, chilled chaps (as for every Mediterranian-culture impacted people), they were quick to act when needed.

A user under the name Antoni Ja, one of the members of the FB group Oglasnik otoka Korčule (Korčula Island Message Board), reported on a 20 kilo turtle floating in the sea in Žrnovska Banja. Floating, the keyword.

„Please do something, so it doesn't get hit by a speedboat or some maniac“, said Antoni Ja.

Other users immediately started to worry if the turtle was injured, and the name of a local vet Vilović was suggested as an address to report the issue.

Sure enough, Vilović examined the turtle, and the 20-kilo turtle turned out to be over 50 kilos. Not quite often seen in shallow waters, but nevertheless a normal turtle size in the Adriatic sea.

„It had a head wound, most likely from the propeller. It is on its way to the Specialist in Split by catamaran“, briefly commented Vilović.

Indeed, as the photo on the FB group published by Ana Jurić shows, the turtle was on its way to Split.

„Kudos to the vet and the guys that organized all this, and the turtle is huge!“ wrote Jurić.

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Zrnovska Banja where the turtle was spotted floating © Visit Korcula

Dr. Mario Gavranović, head of the VET VISION clinic in Split, confirmed that the turtle arrived on Friday night.  „It should arrive in an hour or two. The propeller injury is an old wound and I will first have to examine it to see what is the proper way of treatment“, said Dr. Gavranović.

When contacted on Saturday morning to provide more information on what happened to the turtle, dr. Gavranović wasn't in his office. As confirmed by Aquarium Pula, the reason was Gavranović took the turtle to the aquarium which also has a Marine turtles rescue centre.

"The turtle is alright, on its way and should be in the Centre around midday", briefly confirmed Aquairum Pula.

Pula's rescue centre has been active for around 17 years (with turtles being strictly protected in Croatia since 1995 as one of the most endangered animal species), and Morski.hr wrote in 2019 how the centre cured over 100 turtles. 

Aquarium_Pula.jpg

One of the many rescued turtles by Marine turtles rescue centre © Aquarium Pula

Croatia loves its animals

With vets displaying their expertise, locals on Korčula once again demonstrated their compassion and big heart when it comes to animals. And that compassion is not different from the general mood in Croatia.

With the nourishing of the recently deceased stork Malena being the most famous story of love between Croatians and animals, there were plenty of other examples too. From rejoicing every time whales or dolphins are spotted, when sheep visited the Zadar mall or when a Croatian reality TV star Jasmin Kunišinac raised a fox.

Unfortunately, Croatia also records cases of animal cruelty, such as the poisoning of cats and dogs, and each time Croatian public met it with a fierce backlash and anger for such acts.

Despite quite often arguing about everything imaginable and unimaginable, Croatians also express solidarity with each other when things get tough. For instance, many cities canceled their new year celebrations and relocated the money to Petrinja following its earthquake, as well as Croatian entrepreneurs too. But, many more instances of help were noted over the years.

Learn more about Korčula on our TC page.

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

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.

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.

Friday, 4 June 2021

CASCADE Project: Italy and Croatia Collaborating on Ecosystems Monitoring

June 4, 2021 - With the scientific community in Croatia busy and involved in international projects, meet the CASCADE Project. Learn how Italian and Croatian scientists are working together in monitoring ecosystems.

Croatian scientists in Croatia are running various projects which either don't get reported on by journalists, or if they are reported on, they sadly don't get too much attention from the public.

One such project is the Projekt CASCADE which started back on January first, 2020, and will continue until the very end of 2022.
As reported on the website of The Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries (IOR), the 5,817,547 euros, 85 % of that capital (4,944,914.95 euros) is secured by The European Regional Development Fund (ERFD).

CASCADE is short for „CoaStal and marine waters integrated monitoring systems for ecosystems protection and management“, and is part of the Interreg Italy-Croatia 2014-2020 strategic program. Assess the quality of coastal marine ecosystems in order to restore the habitats of endangered species and provide support for integrated management is the main goal set by 2022.

For the next three years, the project team from the Laboratory for Plankton and Shell Toxicity and the Laboratory for Chemical Oceanography and Sedimentology will work on monitoring, gathering knowledge about habitat and ecosystem biodiversity in the field of project cooperation (Adriatic Sea). It will participate in the establishment of new, as well as the improvement, of existing coastal systems for monitoring and management of coastal and open water ecosystems. Joint actions will assess and protect coastal and marine biodiversity and establish restoration actions. The pilot area of ​​the Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries (IOR) within the EU CASCADE project is the mouth of the Neretva River“, explains the IOR website.

There are eleven pilot areas in Croatia and Italy where the researches will be conducted: lagoon Grado and Marano and Gulf of Trieste, coastal belt of the Italian region Emilia-Romagna, marine protected area Torre Guaceto (natural reef), Punta Della Contessa, Melendugno in the Italian region of Puglia, the mouth of the Neretva river, the coastal zone of the Italian region of Veneto, mouth of the river Miljašić Jaruga, coastal belt of the Italian region of Molise, the northeastern part of the Adriatic Sea in Croatia, mouth of the river Cetina, Torre del Cerrano and Pineto Marine Park on the Abruzzo coast, and finally, the coastal zone of the Italian Marche region.

„At the mouth of the Neretva River (P4 pilot area), the IOR team members will sample sediment, shells, and seawater, depending on the type of matrix, they will analyze various parameters such as salinity, oxygen concentrations, heavy metals, and nutrients, with the aim of establishing an optimal system of observation of coastal and open waters“, added IOR.

The head of the projects within the IOR side is Dr. Sc. Ivana Ujević and various Italian and Croatian regions/counties, regional development agencies, scientific institutes, and two ministries from Italy and Croatia are included as associated partners.

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.

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