Czechia

   

Environmental Policies

#26
Key Findings
With a mixed record on environmental issues, Czechia’s score for environmental policies places it in the lower-middle ranks (rank 26) internationally. Its score on this measure has declined by 0.4 points relative to 2014.

The country’s energy policy and heavy dependence on fossil fuels have translated into slow progress on climate policy. A draft plan for the 2021 – 2030 period showed low ambitions in areas such as renewables and energy efficiency, particularly given the positive economic environment. The country is on track to meeting these unambitious targets.

Water management policy has experienced similar problems, with the government showing insufficient commitment on issues such as storm-water management, water retention in agriculture and urban wastewater treatment. Efforts to reduce fossil-fuel based heating have been weak. Biodiversity is deteriorating due to agriculture and transport activities.

The government has reiterated its commitment to the Paris Agreement. However, it has played an active role in blocking the passage of ambitious environmental goals at the EU level, and does the least amount possible to fulfil its EU obligations.

Environment

#29

How effectively does environmental policy in your country protect and preserve the sustainability of natural resources and environmental quality?

10
 9

Environmental policy goals are ambitious and effectively implemented as well as monitored within and across most relevant policy sectors that account for the largest share of resource use and emissions.
 8
 7
 6


Environmental policy goals are mainly ambitious and effectively implemented and are monitored within and across some of the relevant policy sectors that account for the largest share of resource use and emissions.
 5
 4
 3


Environmental policy goals are neither particularly ambitious nor are they effectively implemented and coordinated across relevant policy sectors.
 2
 1

Environmental concerns have been largely abandoned.
Environmental Policy
5
The main priorities of the State Environmental Policy of Czechia 2012 – 2020 are the sustainable use of resources, climate and air protection, nature and landscape protection, and a safe environment. However, environmental policy goals lack ambition, and national leadership and environmental concerns are not adequately integrated across most sectors. The European Union is the key actor in environmental policy. In addition to providing financial resources, the European Commission drives the agenda-setting process and exercises oversight. Its 2019 Environmental Implementation Review for Czechia identified a number of weak points, including failures in areas such as efforts to reduce fossil-fuel based heating, a task for which EU funding is available.

Water management, an issue identified as a priority by the Babiš government, follows the general pattern, earning criticism for the government’s lack of commitment on issues including storm-water management, water retention in agriculture and urban wastewater treatment. These policy areas require coordination between a number of agencies, with problems magnified by human activity, especially in agriculture.

Poor air quality, particularly in North Moravia and North Bohemia, has made addressing pollution a high-priority issue. The problem is primarily a result of energy policy and the country’s heavy dependence on fossil fuels.

Efforts to improve energy efficiency and expand the use of renewable energy sources are critical with regard to addressing climate change. With regard to the first of these, a lack of political leadership and a fragmentation of implementation responsibility among several public authorities has hindered improvement. Although funds are available for many energy-efficiency improvement measures, public awareness of these opportunities is minimal, and there is only modest interest in drawing the funds. The legal and institutional framework for renewable energy projects is not yet complete, and domestic energy generation faces technical, legal and bureaucratic hurdles. There are also disagreements over the desirability of reducing the use of coal, partly due to arguments about strengthening raw-materials security, and partly due to some regions’ economic dependence on coal mining. Skepticism about the sources of climate change, including from leading political figures, also contributes to this foot-dragging. The National Energy and Climate Plan, which includes an overview of investment needs for the 2021 – 2030 period, had not yet been adopted as of the time of writing, but the draft integrated National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP) was submitted to the European Commission in early 2019. It received a mixed response, mainly because of its low ambitions particularly in areas such as renewables and energy efficiency. The proposed plans remain unspecific and rather abstract (which is a strategic choice to provide room for maneuver). And while the country is on track to meet the targets, the plan does not realize the country’s full potential given the positive economic environment.

In the area of biodiversity, the first strategy produced by the Ministry for the Environment was adopted in 2005, shortly after accession to the EU. This included objectives and indicators for monitoring results, but no allocation of specific tasks. An updated strategy produced in 2015 (Ministerstvo životního prostředí 2016) lamented the low public awareness of the issue of biodiversity, particularly as the overall situation was continuing to deteriorate due largely to agriculture and transport activities; indeed, this meant that the issue could not be addressed by the Ministry of the Environment alone. The Nature Conservation Agency for Czechia (Agentura ochrany přírody a krajiny ČR) actively monitors the country’s biodiversity, and also administers various categories of protected territory, which cover 16% of the country’s area. Nearly all were designated before 1990, but there was a 6% increase in their area between 2005 and 2018. Maintenance and development in this area has been helped by the use of EU funds.

Citations:
European Commission (2019): Assessment of the draft National Energy and Climate Plan of Czechia. Accompanying the document Commission Recommendation on the draft integrated National Energy and Climate Plan of Czechia covering the period 2021-2030. C(2019) 4403 final. Brussels (https://ec.europa.eu/energy/sites/ener/files/documents/cz_swd_en.pdf).

European Commission (2019): Environmental Implementation Review 2019. Country Report Czech Republik. SWD(2019) 119final. Brussels.

OECD (2018): Environmental Performance Review Czech Republic 2018. Paris (http://www.oecd.org/environment/czech-republic-2018-9789264300958-en.htm).

Global Environmental Protection

#19

To what extent does the government actively contribute to the design and advancement of global environmental protection regimes?

10
 9

The government actively contributes to international efforts to design and advance global environmental protection regimes. In most cases, it demonstrates commitment to existing regimes, contributes to their being advanced and has introduced appropriate reforms.
 8
 7
 6


The government contributes to international efforts to strengthen global environmental protection regimes. It demonstrates commitment to existing regimes and occasionally contributes to their being advanced and/or has introduced some appropriate reforms.
 5
 4
 3


The government demonstrates commitment to existing regimes, but does not contribute to their being advanced and has not introduced appropriate reforms.
 2
 1

The government does not contribute to international efforts to strengthen global environmental protection regimes.
Global Environmental Policy
5
Environmental policy in Czechia is shaped to a large degree by the country’s obligations to implement EU legislation. In its government manifesto, the Babiš government reiterated its commitment to the tasks and objectives of the Paris Agreement. Over time, however, Czechia has moved from being a passive recipient of EU and international agendas to playing an active role in blocking the EU’s establishment of more ambitious environmental goals. Together with other East-Central European member states (Estonia, Poland, and Hungary), Czechia is not ready to wean itself off coal. The country also does the least amount possible to fulfill EU obligations, and is not very effective when doing so.
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