Society 4.0: Green Deal Revisited

On May 24 2022, the Czech Republic’s position in the implementation of the European Green Deal, to which we have committed ourselves, was discussed by leading experts in a panel discussion entitled Green Deal Revisited, which we organized as part of the Society 4.0 debate series. The conclusion of this debate was not very optimistic, and the Czech Republic will have a particularly difficult time compared to other European countries.

You can watch the full recording of the debate here.

The next decade in Europe and the Czech Republic will undoubtedly be in the spirit of the Green Deal. And this will happen regardless of the stance of Czech politicians. The green change will come as a result of a change in business thinking, carbon footprints gradually becoming a criterion for decision-making in supply chains and in the approach of financial institutions and banks. It will be a radical change for the Czech Republic, as its economy is based on industry and coal. Moreover, it has neglected many important tasks in the fight against global warming over the past decade.

Mikuláš Bek, Minister for European Affairs, argued in his opening speech that we have made no significant progress in the past decade in either the fight against global warming or in improving energy security. “In the past 10 years, we have not started building any nuclear power plants, we have built almost no renewable energy sources since 2011, we have not invested in hydrogen technologies and we have canceled the diversification of fossil energy sources. It was a decade of missed opportunities,” Bek said at the start of the public debate. The Minister for European Affairs for STAN also noted that as a result of the Covid crisis, the war conflict in Ukraine, and rising inflation, the Czech Republic will have to simultaneously tackle deferred problems. This will make it considerably more difficult. At the same time, he stated that the Green Deal is an opportunity that can lead the Czech Republic out of the impasse. “We must undoubtedly defend Czech national interests, but at the same time we have to participate in the overall European commitment,” Bek added.

The author of the study Climate Neutral Czech Republic, which was presented in detail by Viktor Hanzlík from McKinsey & Company during the evening, described how big a change the Czech Republic is facing. 70% of the goals can be achieved by 2030, in his view, by reducing the use of coal, but the Green Deal also implies a number of other challenges, namely in the area of reducing emissions outside the energy sector, in the area of energy savings in buildings and also in the area of building renewable energy sources. “To get on a 1.5-degree trajectory means having a carbon neutral global economy in 2050. And to be halfway there by 2030. That shows how enormous the task of decarbonization is,” Hanzlik stated.

In his speech, Hanzlík also made reference to the role of banks and the setting up of supply chains, which is crucial from the perspective of the pro-export orientation of the Czech economy. “It’s not just about the Green Deal, the decarbonization push will come through supply chains and also financial institutions. Players in the Czech banking market are regulated by the ECB and some banks operating in the Czech Republic have already committed to reducing financed emissions by 50% by 2030. This will affect Czech business even without the Green Deal,” said Hanzlík.

The conference panelists included Dana Drábová, chairwoman of the State Office for Nuclear Safety, who pointed to the unfavorable level of dependence on energy imports from Russia. “The Green Deal is not just about reducing the human impact on the climate. It is fundamentally about reducing Europe’s dependence on fossil fuels, which it does not have in sufficient quantities. This has made it step by step dependent on very unpleasant regimes,” said Dana Drábová. She added that the war conflict in Ukraine has shifted public opinion significantly in favor of the Green Deal. “Society is much more willing to buy it today,” she added.

The discussion was also attended by Jan Harnych, Energy Manager at the Confederation of Industry of the Czech Republic and Mikuláš Peksa, Member of the European Parliament and member of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, and moderated by Soňa Jonášová, founder and director of the Institute of Circular Economy INCIEN.

The public debate was organized in cooperation with Opero and the Neuron Foundation. We would also like to thank ABRA Software and T-Mobile for their support.

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