Environment groups slam ministry's long-term energy policy

The Trade and Industry Ministry has published its long term energy policy plan up until the year 2030. It has been tailored to gradually meet all EU criteria, but still aims for maximum self sustainability. The ministry has revised an earlier decision to phase out black and brown coal mining and has plans to build three more nuclear reactors. The concept has come as a shock to environment activists who claim that it would be a serious setback for the Czech Republic. We asked Vojtech Kotecky of Friends of the Earth what his reservations are:

"Firstly, it does not do much to tackle the position of the Czech Republic as the worst carbon dioxide polluter in the European Union - in the enlarged EU - and our responsibility for global climate change. Secondly, it relies on outdated technologies such as coal burning and nuclear power plants and supports their further development in the Czech Republic in the coming decades. And thirdly, it practically ignores significant improvements in energy efficiency and development of renewable sources of energy which is the present day trend in the developed world."

You said there were alternative sources of energy which you'd prefer to see used - what are they?

"When you look at Western Europe there is a big boom in renewable energy sources like wind or solar energy -and the Czech government should do more to support them. Probably the most important scope for replacement of nuclear and coal sources in the Czech Republic is in energy efficiency. The Czech Republic consumes 1.7 times more energy per GDP produced than the EU countries.

We should focus more on so called bridge fossil fuels that will help us to take the step from a coal-dependent economy to a renewable energy economy, predominantly gas which is much less carbon intensive than coal."

So why do you think that the ministry is not in favour of these alternative sources of energy?

I think that there are three reasons for the "outdated" reasoning at the ministry. First the commercial interests of several big Czech corporations, big coal mining and energy companies that rely on the current technologies. Secondly, it is reasoning carried over from the past - a reliance on and belief in nuclear power and coal sources and thirdly it is this strategy of national independence -of self-sustainability -which doesn't make much sense on the liberalized European market but which is still quite significant in the eyes of the Czech government.