We have to act together and prevent crisis of today becoming disasters of tomorrow

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Over 80% of Croatian citizens support action against the harmful effects of climate change, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said at the COP27 climate conference in Egypt on Tuesday, adding that Croatia will establish a national climate and ecological transition centre.

"Croatians have truly become aware of the need to mitigate the effects of climate change - more than 80% believe that we should act to prevent harmful consequences for people and the environment," he said in Sharm El-Sheikh, the host of this year's UN Climate Change Conference.

The Russian aggression against Ukraine "has confirmed that green transition is even more important to increase our resilience," Plenković said, adding that thanks to new national and European legislation, "we have further accelerated the transition to low-carbon energy, in which Croatia is already well above the EU average."

He said "two-thirds of our electricity and energy production come from renewable sources, which also provide one-third of our total final energy consumption."

In order to step up the transition, he added, Croatia has abolished VAT on solar panels and is "investing significant efforts in the decarbonisation of the transport sector."

"Over the next decade, we will invest more than 4 billion euros in the modernisation of the railways. By 2032, we will introduce a fleet of battery electric trains to replace diesel trains," said Plenković.

Geothermal energy also represents a great potential in Croatia which, along with Slovenia and Italy, is participating in the North Adriatic Hydrogen Valley project aimed at producing green hydrogen, he added.

On Twitter, he said the three countries planned to produce up to 5,000 tons of hydrogen a year.

In his address, Plenković said Croatia promoted "sustainable tourism and accommodation facilities with local and ecologically certified food production." 

"Thanks to a targeted campaign in hotels and campsites, we reduced food waste by 10% in just one year. Over the past five years, Croatians have increased their recycling rate by a third and reduced the waste disposal rate by a quarter," he added.

Croatia has "extended reforestation to our cities, where we fund urban tree planting," Plenković said, announcing that "Croatia will establish a National Center for Climate and Ecological Transition as a center of expertise for all stakeholders."

"Because nature is our best ally, in each of our actions let's prioritize 'nature-based solutions first'," he said.

Plenković also said that in Europe, "this summer was the hottest since the first meteorological records" and that "the Adriatic Sea had warmed to a record 30 degrees Celsius as early as June."

"An unprecedented drought has caused 300 million euros in damage to Croatian agriculture.
In Croatia alone, over 13,000 fires devastated an area more than twice the size of last year," he added.

Plenković said there was "an intolerable imbalance in greenhouse gas emissions: the richest 1 percent are responsible for 15 percent of emissions, twice as much as the poorest half of humanity."

"This is unfair and unsustainable. If we are to win this battle, those who emit the most must do much more and act urgently, especially we, in the developed world.  This is not just a matter of moral fairness and solidarity, but it is also a rational necessity," he concluded.

Text: HINA