Czechia's environment among the worst in EU, index says

Above-average greenhouse-gas emissions and high waste production put Czechia near the bottom of a 27-country ranking.

Thomas Smith

Written by Thomas Smith Published on 04.04.2023 12:03:00 (updated on 04.04.2023) Reading time: 3 minutes

The state of Czechia’s environment is among the worst in the EU and contributes to 3,200 deaths annually in the country, according to the 2023 Prosperity Index

The ranking, which is part of a joint study by the Europe in Data program and bank Česká spořitelna, put Czechia 22nd out of 27 EU countries for the state of its environment. This is a marginal improvement from last year, when it ranked 23rd.

Emissions – the main problem

The report found that Czechia produces an unhealthily large amount of damaging emissions – far higher than the EU average. The domestic industry alone produces 1,932 kilograms (kg) of greenhouse-gas emissions: a year-on-year increase of 11 percent. Czechia is in the top 10 emissions-producing countries in the EU.

The index also notes that Czechia uses 50 percent more energy per unit of GDP than Germany, another energy-intensive country and industrial powerhouse.

FEATURED EMPLOYERS

"The main cause of the increase in emissions in [Czech] industry is the return to the level of industrial production before the Covid pandemic. About 40 percent of greenhouse-gas emissions in the Czech Republic come from the burning of coal”

Lucie Ješátková, spokesperson for the Ministry of the Environment

Waste problems

The waste that Czechs produced, on average, in 2022 increased by 63 kg compared to 2021 numbers, for a total of 570 kg per person. Rates of recycling, however, improved slightly – Czechia has the 13th-highest proportion of waste recycled out of all EU countries, a jump of six places compared to the previous year.

Drought is another major issue facing the Czech environment. The index notes that over 15 percent of all land in Czechia is currently suffering from drought – the highest amount in the whole EU. 

Efforts to improve the situation

Czechia’s current State Environment Policy 2030 puts emphasis on reducing emissions and pollution, a greater use of the circular economy, and the preservation of biodiversity and ecology. 

During its Council of EU presidency in 2022, Czechia agreed to important elements of the “Fit for 55” environmental plan, which is designed to reduce the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions by 55 percent by 2030. Czechia is also a signatory to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement.

FAST FACTS ON CZECHIA'S ENVIRONMENT

  • About 570 kg of waste were generated per inhabitant in Czechia in 2022, which is a year-on-year increase of 12 percent
  • The average person in Czechia produces 9.6 tons of greenhouse-gas emissions per year
  • Less than half of all produced waste in Czechia is reused or recycled
  • Czechia in 2021 produced the eighth-highest amount of carbon dioxide emissions out of all EU countries
  • About three in four people in Czechia say they sort and recycle their waste - one of the highest rates in Europe

    Sources: Our World in Data, World Bank, samosebou.cz

A report published by several environmental NGOs earlier this year concluded that the Czech government has only “partly made good” on some of its promises in most ecological and environmental matters. 

The capital is also making efforts to reduce its carbon footprint. This week, it approved the allocation of CZK 10 million worth of subsidies for its Clean Energy Program, which provides grants for people installing solar panels and environmentally friendly heat pumps.

On a national level, the New Green Savings program allows people to draw subsidies from the government for the installation of photovoltaic panels and other green equipment.

Despite efforts to reduce Czechia’s carbon footprint, the country’s poor ranking in the 2023 Prosperity Index will be disconcerting to many. Strong future policies by the government, combined with societal efforts, may see Czechia perform better next year – and save lives.

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