Low-carbon development - opportunity for economic growth and new, green jobs

May 21, 2013

Village of Ajderovac in Lika. Solar energy is perfect for remote rural communities in Croatia. PHOTO: Sunčica Pleština/Inia Herenčić

A strategy of competitive low-carbon development needs radical changes both from a social and economic point of view, in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide maximum benefits for the society, economy and environment- has been emphasized at the presentation of the Framework for the Low-emission Development Strategy of Croatia (LEDS), which has been organized by the Ministry of the Environmental and Nature Protection and UNDP at the Croatian Chamber of Economy. During the development of the strategy in 2012 more than 200 experts shared their opinions and actively participated in seven sectoral workshops and two national conferences.
The Framework for the Low-emission Development Strategy of Croatia , prepared in cooperation with UNDP, will be used as the basis for the development of the Low-Carbon Development Strategy, with defined sectoral aims to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions until 2050.
Croatia committed to develop the Low-emission Development Strategy as part of duty towards the European Union and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which fosters countries to prepare low-carbon development strategies and indicates that climate change requires developing long-term strategies in accordance with sustainable development. The development strategy aims at separating economic development from the exploitation of limited natural resources. While the emphasis is on reducing the greenhouse gas emissions, the more far-reaching goal is to make development plans that take into consideration mutual dependency between humans and nature.
"Croatia wants triple wins in its development: economic growth, social development and environmental protection. The Low-Carbon Development Strategy takes us closer to this aim," said Minister of Environmental and Nature Protection Mihael Zmajlovic, adding that the idea that a compromise between the environmental protection and the economic growth is necessary is wrong, and that the environmental protection and working on reducing the climate changes can be the engine for the economic growth and a guarantee for a greener tomorrow.
The suggested Framework for the Low-emission Development Strategy of Croatia until 2050 defines guidelines connected to aims, visions, priority measures and enforcement instruments. It also points out the necessity of a comprehensive approach, intersectoral cooperation, sinergy, social inclusion, participation of all stakeholders, necessity of professional analyses and strong political will. The key element of the strategy is a change in all behavioural patterns on personal, corporate and social level. In order to achieve sustainable development, whose growth does not consist only of the growth of material consumption, the changes will have to be introduced on two levels: there are core changes of the frameworks in which we work, live and create at the first level, and fostering changes in behaviour of individuals at the second level. That is the only way to create prerequisites for sustainable development.
"I think we have already proved through our projects that Croatia has all the prerequisites to become a global pioneer in the field of renewable energy, energy efficiency and "green" jobs in tourism and agriculture," said UNDP Croatia Resident Representative Louisa Vinton. "Croatia can already enjoy the results of what we call "triple wins" in the UNDP: green solutions that address the urgent environmental threats while at the same time promoting growth and social equity.
Low-carbon development is also a part of the solution for the most important economic problem in Croatia: unemployment. UNDP's research points out that a balanced focus on the energy efficiency and renewable energy sources could lead to the creation of 80 000 new "green" jobs and help Croatia fulfil the obligations connected to climate change. A lack of funds is not an excuse as Croatia spends 5-6 per cent of its GDP on the import of fossil fuels at the moment. These funds could be relocated to foster the development of renewables.
The sectoral workshops carried out, together with the analysis of pros and cons, opportunities and threats have indicated that Croatia's natural advantages have to be a strong push in the transition to a competitive low-carbon development. The making and implementing of the strategy will continue with the help of a regional project financed by the EU funds, and it will become an obligation for member countries according to the new proposal of the European regulation on mechanisms for monitoring greenhouse gases.
A drastic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is necessary in order to keep the rise of global temperature below 2°C. For more developed countries it means a reduction of 80-95% until 2050 in comparison with 1990. The reduction of greenhouse gas emissions represents not only a challenge, but also an opportunity for creating new jobs, fostering investments, "green" jobs, enforcing competitiveness and stimulating permanent economic growth. The concept of the path towards a competitive low-carbon and green economy is based on the basic principles of sustainable development and balance of social, economic and environmental aims and there is no alternative. The way towards the vision of 2050 consists of several stages, and each country has to find its optimal way of transition, in the framework of global and European rules, while each delay in making decisions and implementation will jeopardize its competitiveness and development.