NGOs: Czech government is only partially fulfilling its environmental pledges

A 'major shift' in policy change occurred in only a quarter of the promises it made regarding ecological issues.

Thomas Smith

Written by Thomas Smith Published on 18.01.2023 08:30:00 (updated on 18.01.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

A report issued by several environmental NGOs concluded that the Czech government has “at least partly made good” on some of its promises in most ecological matters, ČTK reports. However, it also highlights serious shortcomings that need to be rectified.

The government “has made some progress in 11 out of 15 ecological areas,” said Jiří Koželouh, a senior member of the Friends of the Earth charity which compiled the report with other members of the Green Circle association of ecological organizations. Koželouh also noted that only four areas saw "a major overall shift."

Construction and hunting laws under fire

One of the grievances was the passing of a construction law that, according to the NGOs, took power away from the public in deciding the permits and approvals for construction projects. 

Another reason for dissatisfaction was the failure to pass an amendment to the current hunting-for-sport law. The Ministry of Agriculture, responsible for the change, has said that it would discuss the amendment this year.

"The deterioration of biodiversity in the Czech Republic is mainly caused by intensive agriculture and forestry, especially high volumes of mining." - Greenpeace report, 2023

The NGOs also criticized the government for allegedly giving more funding to owners of woods and forests for “non-sustainable management,” instead of supporting biodiversity.

It also criticized Czechia’s presidency of the Council of the EU (which lasted between July and December 2022) for actively blocking discussions about the sustainable use of pesticides.

Politician Petra Kolínská from charity Green Circle said that they saw the governmental statement as a "binding document," adding an appeal "to the ministers concerned to focus on areas where promises have not yet been fulfilled without any reasonable reason."

Some progress regarding renewables and environmental protection

The NGOs were complimentary of the government’s moves to financially support farmers, and better safeguard soil and agriculture, such as subsidies worth CZK 40 billion directed to the agriculture industry until 2024, writes. 

Ecologists also praised the creation of fallow areas, which “contribute to the improvement of water bodies.”

"Data for the abundance of bird species [in Czechia] are an indicator of the overall state of biodiversity...birds in the agricultural landscape decreased by 31.7 percent [since 1982]." - Greenpeace

Areas that the government is said to have performed best in are: its development of renewable resources; the expansion of its environmental-protection policy; and its plans to reduce the country’s coal dependency. 

One example of the government’s pledge to improve Czechia’s ecology is a law introduced in December asking for “every third bus” in the country to be ecological and have low emissions.

The state will also, with help from the European Commission, support ecological district heating with CZK 29 billion earmarked for the “decarbonization and modernization” of thermal units, iDnes reports.

With cited shortcomings in areas such as forest protection, nuclear energy, and public involvement, NGOs say that the government has much work to do if it wants to fulfill its original commitments to Czechia’s ecology.

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