Limited attention by politicians, strong positions of NGOs

Ana-Maria Boromisa

Before the Copenhagen conference, the government, civil society organisations and the media expected that it would be possible to make a binding agreement.[1] Luka Bebić, the speaker of the Croatian parliament, expressed expectations that long-term obligations for emission reductions for the period 2020 with a view to 2050 would be finalised at the Copenhagen conference, as well as the implementation and financing of rules.[2] The media announced the conference as challenging, and expectations were rather large.[3]
The presidential campaign in Croatia took place during the Copenhagen conference; however, climate issues and energy policy were not debated much. Most of the candidates barely (or not at all) mentioned climate change in their programmes,[4] or were unaware of the issues debated in Copenhagen.[5] Ivo Josipović is one of the rare candidates who did talk about climate change in his campaign and stressed that he sees a stronger role for civil organisations and associations on advocating these issues.[6]
The government’s position is rather ambiguous: The formal negotiating position (and national pledge) is a 5 percent temporary reduction target for 2013-2020. It derives from the EU’s negotiating strategy, but it is officially stated that following accession to the EU, Croatia will replace its individual interim target and share the EU commitment for 2020. Croatia also supports the European Union’s position regarding organisation and method of work in 2010 in order to facilitate negotiations among parties.
The NGOs, on the other hand, requested that Croatia accept a 25 percent reduction target[7] and evaluated the results of the Copenhagen conference as a failure. This was also the prevailing conclusion of the media reports on the Copenhagen Accord.[8]
Europe will certainly not solve the climate problem on its own, but it can help to deliver abatement technologies and to prove that fighting climate change can be reconciled with economic growth – provided a long-term framework is established that is in line with other goals such as security of supply and affordable energy. This was concluded at the 18th Forum of the Croatian Energy Society.[9] The Forum was focused on analysis and views on energy sector development. The views expressed there had significant impact on policy makers and politicians: in his speech at the Ukrainian National University of Natural and Ecological Sciences,[10] Luka Bebić, speaker of the Croatian parliament, was evidently inspired by the conference conclusions. It is considered that the European energy sector can deliver valuable input to the discussion about the coming climate goals and how to achieve them by addressing the importance of new climate-friendly technologies. The climate change goals should be reflected in investment decisions.[11]
The Copenhagen conference revealed the weaknesses of the UN system. As the negotiations in Copenhagen showed, major progress was achieved outside the UN process. In this context, the media reported that the UN had lost its influence in the field of climate change and opened discussions on examining alternative forums, such as the G20.[12]

Possibilities of reaching an efficient way to combat climate change was the key topic of the roundtable “What after Copenhagen?” organised by Vecernji list. It revealed a wide spectrum of ideas, ranging from the need for a global centralised governing structure and strengthening of global market rules for the energy sector through the World Trade Organization (WTO), to national or regional solutions, including a serious turn to renewable energy sources. It was concluded that the best option consists of combining local measures with a global agreement.[13]

Croatia’s official positions lack a long-term strategic view on the issue and they mainly comply with the EU requirements based on the principle of conditionality.[14] In its submission to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Croatia stated that upon its accession to the European Union, its target shall be replaced by an arrangement in line with and part of the European Union mitigation effort.[15] The economic costs of achieving a 30 percent cut in emissions by 2020 (equivalent to 16.9 million tons of CO2 in 2020) from the baseline of 36 million tons per year are estimated to be 115-536 million Euros (e.g., 0.31-1.43 percent of Gross Domestic Product).[16] The estimate shows that major reductions are possible with relatively moderate economic costs. However, political, institutional, technical and other considerations have to be resolved to reach these reduction levels. Croatia’s official target, 33.2 million tons, indicates the difficulties in investing in domestic measures. Thus, it is not likely that Croatia would provide relevant input to financing mitigation and adaptation.

[1] E.g. Ivan Gregov (journalist): Two weeks that can change a world, Zamirzine weekly, 3 December 2009.

[2] L. Bebić: Speech, Ukrainian National University of Natural and Ecological sciences, 30 November 2009, available at: (last access: 17 May 2010).

[3] E.g., Banka magazine, Večernji list, 7 December 2009, available at: (last access: 17 May 2010).

[4] E.g., presidential programmes of the candidates of the major political parties, such as HDZ (of Andrija Hebrang, candidate of the HDZ), available at: (last access: 17 May 2010), even the programme of Vesna Pusić, HNS, has not mentioned climate change.

[5] E.g. Milan Bandić, who got into the second round of elections, RTL, Presidential Forum, Debate, 19 December 2009.

[6] Jospović, interview with civil society organisations, cited according to Omer Rak: Dossier. I like green, 19 December 2009, available at: (last access: 17 May 2010).

[7] Green Action, available at: (last access: 17 May 2010).

[8] E.g., Deutsche Welle: There is a will, but no results, 18 December 2009, available at:,,5035356,00.html (last access: 17 May 2010).

[9] HED: Zagreb, 2009, available at: (last access: 17 May 2010).

[10] Luka Bebić: Speech, Ukrainian National University of Natural and Ecological sciences, 30 November 2009, available at: (last access: 17 May 2010).

[11] Stefan Urlich: World Energy Council, at 18 Forum: Energy Day in Croatia, Zagreb, December 2009.

[12] HINA, Croatian News Agency, 20 December 2009.

[13] Roundtable “What after Copenhagen”, organised by Večernji list, Zagreb, 23 April 2010.

[14] V. Horvat, at conference “What Climate has to do with it”, Zagreb, 22 April 2010.

[15] Ministry for environmental protection: physical planning and construction, press release, 10 December 2009, quoted according to Alert, independent environmental magazine, available at: (last access: 17 May 2010); Croatia’s quantified target submitted to the UNFCCC, available at: (last access: 17 May 2010).

[16] Seth Landau: Climate for Change, 2008, p. 199.