The Czech Republic – an inward-looking critic

The Czech media pre­sent­ed the Copen­hagen con­fer­ence as a fail­ure.11iDNES.cz: Kodaňská kon­fer­ence OSN byla katas­tro­fou, uznala EU [The EU admit­ted that the Copen­hagen con­fer­ence was a cat­a­stro­phe], 22 Decem­ber 2009, avail­able at: http://zpravy.idnes.cz/kodanska-konference-osn-byla-katastrofou-uznala-eu-fxi-/zahranicni.asp?c=A091222_212439_zahranicni_ban (last access: 29 June 2010); Czech Radio: Hopes of new cli­mate pact dashed in Copen­hagen, 18 Decem­ber 2009, avail­able at: http://www.radio.cz/en/article/123328 (last access: 29 June 2010). Most Czech polit­i­cal par­ties for­mal­ly sup­port the EU’s plans for emis­sions reduc­tions,22Euractiv.cz: České pol­i­tické strany ves­měs pod­poru­jí plány EU na snižování emisí [Czech polit­i­cal par­ties most­ly sup­port EU plans for emis­sions reduc­tions], 17 Decem­ber 2009, avail­able at: http://www.euractiv.cz/cr-v-evropske-unii/clanek/ceske-politicke-strany-vesmes-podporuji-plany-eu-na-snizovani-emisi-006867 (last access: 29 June 2010). but only a few politi­cians gen­uine­ly regret­ted the conference’s fail­ure. Czech Envi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Jan Dusik (nom­i­nat­ed by the Green Par­ty) made it clear that he expect­ed more from the UN Copen­hagen cli­mate con­fer­ence.33Czech News Agency: Czechs expect­ed more from Copen­hagen con­fer­ence – min­is­ter, 19 Decem­ber 2009, avail­able at: http://www.ceskenoviny.cz/tema/zpravy/ods-to-respect-eu-commitment-to-fight-climate-change-leader/411342&id_seznam=2106?id=412861 (last access: 29 June 2010). The Civic Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty (ODS) expressed its will­ing­ness to “respect the EU com­mit­ment to fight cli­mate change”.44Czech News Agency: ODS to respect EU com­mit­ment to fight cli­mate change – leader, 9 Decem­ber 2009, avail­able at: http://www.ceskenoviny.cz/tema/zpravy/ods-to-respect-eu-commitment-to-fight-climate-change-leader/411342 (last access: 29 June 2010). The Czech Social Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty (ČSSD) endors­es the cli­mate pol­i­cy and pre­sent­ed its plans to reduce CO2 emis­sions in the Czech Repub­lic by, among oth­ers, fur­ther exploita­tion of nuclear ener­gy.55Euractiv.cz: České pol­i­tické strany ves­měs pod­poru­jí plány EU na snižování emisí [Czech polit­i­cal par­ties most­ly sup­port EU plans for emis­sions reduc­tions], 17 Decem­ber 2009, avail­able at: http://www.euractiv.cz/cr-v-evropske-unii/clanek/ceske-politicke-strany-vesmes-podporuji-plany-eu-na-snizovani-emisi-006867 (last access: 29 June 2010). Czech Pres­i­dent Václav Klaus retained his posi­tion as a glob­al warm­ing scep­tic and con­tin­ued his crit­i­cism of cli­mate pol­i­cy. In an inter­view with the news serv­er FoxNews.com, he described glob­al warm­ing as a “new reli­gion” rather than a sci­ence.66FOXNews.com: Czech Pres­i­dent Klaus: Glob­al Warm­ing Not Sci­ence, but a “New Reli­gion”, 18 Decem­ber 2009, avail­able at: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2009/12/18/czech-president-klaus-global-warming-science-new-religion/ (last access: 29 June 2010). Accord­ing to Pres­i­dent Klaus, the rad­i­cal mea­sures sug­gest­ed in Copen­hagen are unnecessary.

The “green issues” have been salient dur­ing the 2010 elec­tion cam­paign. Since 2006, when the Greens made it into par­lia­ment, all par­ties paid more atten­tion to envi­ron­men­tal issues in their pro­grammes and cam­paigns. Nev­er­the­less, the media and polit­i­cal par­ties focus pri­mar­i­ly on domes­tic issues (break­ing Czech coal min­ing lim­its, nuclear vs. renew­able ener­gy, pro­tec­tion of nature on a nation­al lev­el). Even though Czech cit­i­zens agree that cli­mate change rep­re­sents a seri­ous prob­lem, they are much more sen­si­tive to the prob­lem of the eco­nom­ic cri­sis and down­turn.77Euro­pean Com­mis­sion: Euro­barom­e­ter 72.1. Results for the Czech Repub­lic, Octo­ber 2009, avail­able at: http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/ebs/ebs_322_fact_cz_en.pdf (last access: 29 June 2010). There is hard­ly any pub­lic pres­sure on Czech politi­cians regard­ing the fight against glob­al warm­ing and cli­mate change. Czech polit­i­cal elites often per­ceive cli­mate change as some­one else’s prob­lem: they per­ceive the EU’s cli­mate pol­i­cy as import­ed, as some­one else’s pol­i­cy. With the excep­tion of the Green Par­ty (which failed to get into par­lia­ment in the May 2010 gen­er­al elec­tions), key polit­i­cal actors express lit­tle gen­uine inter­est in the pol­i­cy. They either respect and accept the EU’s cli­mate pol­i­cy for strate­gic rea­sons or open­ly oppose the pol­i­cy. There is lit­tle gen­uine inter­est in cli­mate pol­i­cy and, con­se­quent­ly, no alter­na­tive strate­gies to fight­ing cli­mate change are being thought through.

The cli­mate pol­i­cy is much less salient than, for exam­ple, the issues of the EU’s ener­gy secu­ri­ty or the glob­al eco­nom­ic down­turn.88Ibid. Czech elites embraced the top­ic of ener­gy secu­ri­ty; they treat it as a unique con­tri­bu­tion of the Czech Repub­lic to Europe. The EU’s exter­nal ener­gy secu­ri­ty con­tin­ues to attract the atten­tion of politi­cians, state offi­cials, com­men­ta­tors and aca­d­e­mics. But it should be not­ed that ener­gy secu­ri­ty is under­stood as a prob­lem in and of itself, and it is being dis­cussed sep­a­rate­ly from the cli­mate change issue. Czech polit­i­cal elites and experts expect the Euro­pean Union to change its own ener­gy pol­i­cy for eco­nom­ic, strate­gic and geopo­lit­i­cal rea­sons. The ener­gy secu­ri­ty has been dis­cussed with regard to nation­al, rather than glob­al, prob­lems.99Czech Cham­ber of Com­merce: Prohlášení účast­níků kon­fer­ence „Ener­get­ická bezpečnost EU a živ­ot­ní prostředí“ konané dne 17. úno­ra 2010 v Mostě [The dec­la­ra­tion of the par­tic­i­pants of the con­fer­ence “EU ener­gy secu­ri­ty and the envi­ron­ment” held on 17 Feb­ru­ary 2010 in Most], 17 Jan­u­ary 2010, avail­able at: http://www.komora.cz/regionalni-a-oborove-informace/regionalni-informace‑1/informace-z-regionalnich-slozek/prohlaseni-ucastniku-konference-energeticka-bezpecnost-eu-a-zivotni-prostredi-konane-dne-17-unora-2010-v-moste.aspx (last access: 29 June 2010); see also Prague Secu­ri­ty Stud­ies Insti­tute: Jak posílit ener­get­ick­ou bezpečnost ČR? [How to strength­en Czech ener­gy secu­ri­ty?], 15 Decem­ber 2009, avail­able at: http://www.pssi.cz/files/News/publikace/jak-posilit-energetickou-bezpecnost-cr.pdf (last access: 29 June 2010). In a bid to tack­le the Czech Republic’s ener­gy secu­ri­ty, the envi­ron­men­tal organ­i­sa­tions pro­posed a low­er­ing of the ener­gy inten­si­ty of the domes­tic econ­o­my. But they appear to be out­num­bered by experts and politi­cians who favour a boost in domes­tic ener­gy pro­duc­tion, main­ly through nuclear pow­er plants.1010Euractiv.cz: Odborní­ci: Ener­get­ick­ou bezpečnost nelze zúžit pouze na otázku zdro­jů [Experts: Ener­gy secu­ri­ty can not be nar­rowed down to the issue of resources], 28 April 2010, avail­able at: http://www.euractiv.cz/energetika/clanek/odbornici-energetickou-bezpecnost-nelze-zuzit-pouze-na-otazku-zdroju-007425 (last access: 29 June 2010).

The issue of financ­ing mit­i­ga­tion and adap­ta­tion efforts in devel­op­ing coun­tries had been on the agen­da of the Czech EU Pres­i­den­cy dur­ing the first half of 2009. The then Min­is­ter of the Envi­ron­ment Mar­tin Bursík took the issue of sup­port­ing devel­op­ing coun­tries and help­ing them adapt to cli­mate change and devel­op green tech­nolo­gies seri­ous­ly.1111EuropeanVoice.com: The Czechs’ green agen­da, 23 Jan­u­ary 2009, avail­able at: http://www.europeanvoice.com/article/2009/01/the-czechs-green-agenda/63729.aspx (last access: 29 June 2010). Nev­er­the­less, the issue has failed to attract wider atten­tion from the pub­lic, the media and politicians.

    Footnotes

  • 1iDNES.cz: Kodaňská kon­fer­ence OSN byla katas­tro­fou, uznala EU [The EU admit­ted that the Copen­hagen con­fer­ence was a cat­a­stro­phe], 22 Decem­ber 2009, avail­able at: http://zpravy.idnes.cz/kodanska-konference-osn-byla-katastrofou-uznala-eu-fxi-/zahranicni.asp?c=A091222_212439_zahranicni_ban (last access: 29 June 2010); Czech Radio: Hopes of new cli­mate pact dashed in Copen­hagen, 18 Decem­ber 2009, avail­able at: http://www.radio.cz/en/article/123328 (last access: 29 June 2010).
  • 2Euractiv.cz: České pol­i­tické strany ves­měs pod­poru­jí plány EU na snižování emisí [Czech polit­i­cal par­ties most­ly sup­port EU plans for emis­sions reduc­tions], 17 Decem­ber 2009, avail­able at: http://www.euractiv.cz/cr-v-evropske-unii/clanek/ceske-politicke-strany-vesmes-podporuji-plany-eu-na-snizovani-emisi-006867 (last access: 29 June 2010).
  • 3Czech News Agency: Czechs expect­ed more from Copen­hagen con­fer­ence – min­is­ter, 19 Decem­ber 2009, avail­able at: http://www.ceskenoviny.cz/tema/zpravy/ods-to-respect-eu-commitment-to-fight-climate-change-leader/411342&id_seznam=2106?id=412861 (last access: 29 June 2010).
  • 4Czech News Agency: ODS to respect EU com­mit­ment to fight cli­mate change – leader, 9 Decem­ber 2009, avail­able at: http://www.ceskenoviny.cz/tema/zpravy/ods-to-respect-eu-commitment-to-fight-climate-change-leader/411342 (last access: 29 June 2010).
  • 5Euractiv.cz: České pol­i­tické strany ves­měs pod­poru­jí plány EU na snižování emisí [Czech polit­i­cal par­ties most­ly sup­port EU plans for emis­sions reduc­tions], 17 Decem­ber 2009, avail­able at: http://www.euractiv.cz/cr-v-evropske-unii/clanek/ceske-politicke-strany-vesmes-podporuji-plany-eu-na-snizovani-emisi-006867 (last access: 29 June 2010).
  • 6FOXNews.com: Czech Pres­i­dent Klaus: Glob­al Warm­ing Not Sci­ence, but a “New Reli­gion”, 18 Decem­ber 2009, avail­able at: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2009/12/18/czech-president-klaus-global-warming-science-new-religion/ (last access: 29 June 2010).
  • 7Euro­pean Com­mis­sion: Euro­barom­e­ter 72.1. Results for the Czech Repub­lic, Octo­ber 2009, avail­able at: http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/ebs/ebs_322_fact_cz_en.pdf (last access: 29 June 2010).
  • 8Ibid.
  • 9Czech Cham­ber of Com­merce: Prohlášení účast­níků kon­fer­ence „Ener­get­ická bezpečnost EU a živ­ot­ní prostředí“ konané dne 17. úno­ra 2010 v Mostě [The dec­la­ra­tion of the par­tic­i­pants of the con­fer­ence “EU ener­gy secu­ri­ty and the envi­ron­ment” held on 17 Feb­ru­ary 2010 in Most], 17 Jan­u­ary 2010, avail­able at: http://www.komora.cz/regionalni-a-oborove-informace/regionalni-informace‑1/informace-z-regionalnich-slozek/prohlaseni-ucastniku-konference-energeticka-bezpecnost-eu-a-zivotni-prostredi-konane-dne-17-unora-2010-v-moste.aspx (last access: 29 June 2010); see also Prague Secu­ri­ty Stud­ies Insti­tute: Jak posílit ener­get­ick­ou bezpečnost ČR? [How to strength­en Czech ener­gy secu­ri­ty?], 15 Decem­ber 2009, avail­able at: http://www.pssi.cz/files/News/publikace/jak-posilit-energetickou-bezpecnost-cr.pdf (last access: 29 June 2010).
  • 10Euractiv.cz: Odborní­ci: Ener­get­ick­ou bezpečnost nelze zúžit pouze na otázku zdro­jů [Experts: Ener­gy secu­ri­ty can not be nar­rowed down to the issue of resources], 28 April 2010, avail­able at: http://www.euractiv.cz/energetika/clanek/odbornici-energetickou-bezpecnost-nelze-zuzit-pouze-na-otazku-zdroju-007425 (last access: 29 June 2010).
  • 11EuropeanVoice.com: The Czechs’ green agen­da, 23 Jan­u­ary 2009, avail­able at: http://www.europeanvoice.com/article/2009/01/the-czechs-green-agenda/63729.aspx (last access: 29 June 2010).

The reports focus on a report­ing peri­od from Decem­ber 2009 until May 2010. This sur­vey was con­duct­ed on the basis of a ques­tion­naire that has been elab­o­rat­ed in March and April 2010. Most of the 31 reports were deliv­ered in May 2010.

The EU-27 Watch No. 9 receives sig­nif­i­cant fund­ing from the Otto Wolff-Foun­da­tion, Cologne, in the frame­work of the ‘Dia­log Europa der Otto Wolff-Stiftung’, and finan­cial sup­port from the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion. The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion is not respon­si­ble for any use that may be made of the infor­ma­tion con­tained therein.