The Czech government has hinted at its new approach to the problem of dealing with the country's worst pollution legacy following the final burial of its massive “eco-tender” aimed at dealing with the worst sites at one fell swoop. A new strategy for dealing with the sites should be hatched out in the first quarter of 2012.
Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek (TOP 09) has warned that hopes of keeping the Czech state deficit for 2011 to Kč 135 billion will be dashed because payments from three EU programs have been stalled. This could mean the deficit widening by as much as Kč 15 billion. The three programs are being probed because of suspected misuse of funds.
The Czech Republic and five other EU member states from Central Europe and the Balkans have taken a highly cautious line on more ambitious EU moves to cut carbon dixide emissions without other major pollutors do not coming up with similar steps. Such a move, they say, could just put more pressure on local industry and shift jobs out of the continent.
A documentary aired on the UK television station ITV last week about the problem of pollution in Ostrava, the third-largest city in the Czech Republic, has raised fears among workers at the city’s ArcelorMittal steel works that the company may react by closing one of the two blast furnaces at the plant. ArcelorMittal, the largest single employer in Ostrava, claims the documentary was inaccurate.
Škoda Auto has started producing 10 electric cars with which it seeking to gain an insight into their reliability and performance on the road. The first road tests on the electrgic versions of the mid-range Octavia model should start in the fall. Škoda says there is a big role for electric cars based on ever stricter pollution rules.
Several dozen Czech activists who had tried to prevent the felling of trees in the Šumava National Park (ŠNP) infested with bark beetles demonstrated outside the Environment Ministry on Monday demanding park director Jan Stráský’s dismissal for “incompetence.” The protesters claim that Stráský acted illegally in ordering the affected trees be cut down and that the infected area of the national park, Na ztracenem, should have been left alone.
While environmental activists struggle to intervene to prevent loggers from cutting down trees in Šumava National Park following a large-scale invasion of the bark beetle, the majority of Czechs side with park and government officials, who see the action as a necessary to prevent a wider infestation, a poll by SANEP (Center for Analysis and Empirical Studies) shows.
The UN Security Council this Wednesday is set to discuss the possible expansion of the world body’s mission to keep the peace via a new environmental peacekeeping force — “green helmets” alongside the tradional blue one — which could step into conflicts caused by shrinking resources. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon is expected to address the meeting and Czech president Václav Klaus, a noted skeptic of prevailing theories on global warming, is certain to protest.
The Czech Republic was among three EU member states — along with Ireland and France — that the European Commission referred to the European Court of Justice for failing to meet environmental legislation. The Czech case relates to the use of acrolein, a substance used in slimicides.
In the 1960s Spolana supplied deadly chemicals for the US military’s “Agent Orange” campaign; when the 2002 floods hit, the Czech plant was still among “the most dangerously contaminated places on Earth.” Now, specialist firm BCD CZ refuses to leave Spolana due to new toxic threats — and is suing the state for Kč 550 mln — while Geosan Group, a bidder for the giant nationwide “eco-tender,” hasn’t even tackled its mercury/dioxin-ridden site there.