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.