Blog post by Norbert Kurilla
Nowadays out-of-crises policies and measures shall be fully compatible with a net-zero world and avoid creating further dependencies. I think many crisis can be turned into an opportunity. Especially from energy security perspective, it could be a positive impetus that drives environmentally sound and sustainable solutions. The new era is the green and digital transition that underpins greater resilience and energy and material independence. This transition however must be designed in a socially affordable way as immediate effects of fossil energy phasing-out pose harsh socio-economic consequences.
Presidential office on the way to net-zero by 2030
Practical examples can serve as an inspiration for individuals, company or public institution. The Presidential office wants to lead by example and become the first public institution in Slovakia and probably the very first Presidential office in the world to achieve climate neutrality by 2030 at the latest. This commitment was made in September 2020. Priorities for decarbonisation were set through data and evidence-based approach. In cooperation with the Institute of Environmental Policy we have developed a carbon calculator and inform about progress on annual basis. A special purpose energy audit was carried out to evaluating measures from an economic, energy and environmental point of view. It includes simple to more investment-intensive measures clustered in five areas. Mobility (upgrade of fleet to hybrid and electric vehicles via operational leasing, bike racks, charging infrastructure, commercial airlines, etc.), Energy (planned installation of photovoltaic panels to cover 15% of annual energy consumption), Renovation and operation of buildings (green roof, planned replacement of gas heating with heat pumps and ceiling insulation, etc.), Green infrastructure and offsetting (greenery and tree planting, presidential bees and urban biodiversity) and Miscellaneous (green public procurement, zero-waste office, ban on single-use plastics, donations, etc.) Energy efficiency measures and energy saving are the highest priority. Since we work with data and evidence, we can easily avoid “greenwashing”. According to the carbon calculator, we have to offset air travel emissions by planting 1300 trees every year. Last year we reduced emissions from transport by 50 percent, which was mainly due to electrification of the vehicle fleet, and for example we produced 50 kg of own presidential honey, which, in addition to supporting urban biodiversity and pollinators, is a great “side” product – an original gift that was given Pope Francis.
The Presidential green seal motivates for sustainable renovations and operations
The main objective of this flagship initiative (more in Slovak at www.zelenapecat.sk) is to motivate other organizations, institutions or the private sector to adopt “standards of a green institution” and direct the buildings renovation and subsequently their operation towards sustainability. Sustainable constructions, renovations and operation of buildings are essential to meet ambitious energy and climate goals. The Slovak President will award with her “Green Seal” the efforts of those renovation projects that meet technical, aesthetic, as well as operational and social criteria put forward by her initiative. Green Seal criteria were jointly developed by external sustainability experts. It is a unique political innovation (a new certification scheme for public buildings), which contributes to overall sustainability. The ten criteria combine the physical transformation of a building (sustainable restoration of the building) and the behavioral changes of the users of the given institution with an impact on the connected communities. This initiative naturally supports the achievement of national and European climate and energy goals, is compatible with the Paris Climate Agreement, European Green Deal and its Renovation Wave.
Most complex climate crisis force us to reevaluate habitual approaches and attitudes Decarbonisation as a global trend counts on clean energy and energy efficiency. Sustainability and climate change implications are no longer on the margins, they are already central. If we act together and coordinately, we can be better prepared. Inaction and delays will be more expensive and painful. C4E Forum is an ideal opportunity to exchange further and elaborate profoundly on best practices and knowledge. Looking forward to welcoming you in Slovakia on 23-26 May 2023.
The author is a senior advisor to the President of the Slovak Republic for environment, energy, climate change and business. He is an environmental diplomat and economist. His international expertise on environmental policy, climate change and energy has developed during many years diplomatic assignment at the Permanent Representation of the Slovak Republic to the EU in Brussels. He was also deputy minister at the Ministry of Environment, Management Board member at the European Environmental Agency, and currently acts as a vice-chairman of the OECD Committee for Green Economy.