CCCP - Are we ready for climate policy?

Ekspertize: Sociologija klimatskih promjena

A qualitative study on the state of climate change policy in Croatia
Are we ready for climate policy?

Kao potpisnica protokola iz Kyota Hrvatska je također kreirala vlastitu klimatsku politiku. Kvalitativnim istraživanjem smo ispitali stavove relevantnih aktera za klimatsku politiku u Hrvatskoj o stanju i učinkovitosti iste, te preprekama njezinoj provedbi. 

The climate change threat

Climate change has become one of the most serious consequences of the global environmental crisis of the past few decades and one of the biggest threats to life as we know it. Whilst climate change affects and has its roots in processes occurring in nature, its hazards are caused by modern forms of social organisation: the economic, political, and cultural system that has spread from the West throughout the rest of the world. Since the 1980s, there has been an increasing amount of evidence that mankind has an effect on the global environment – the global temperature is rising, and consequently, the global climate is changing. Global warming has had a cumulative long-term effect over the entire history of modern society and its attitude towards nature, an effect which was ignored until the consequences became apparent. The greatest influence on anthropogenic aspects of climate change has been the burning of fossil fuels through basic industrial processes, followed by the use of cars over a period stretching over more than a hundred years, modern agricultural production, and deforestation. In 2013, the latest report from the International Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) reported with great confidence that human activities increase global warming. It also warned that the increase of temperature must be limited to below 2 °C, the margin that mankind will be able to withstand and adapt to. However, emissions keep growing year after year, and an efficient international agreement which would bind all countries in the world to reduce their emissions has not yet been achieved. Scientists have signalled warnings several times that if “business-as-usual” continues, the temperature will rise by 4 °C by year 2060 due to the reduced capacity of forests and oceans to absorb the excess of CO2. Such catastrophic predictions were unheard of ten years ago. Today, as climate science improves, they have become a regular occurrence, a part of the mainstream. The concepts of a tipping point and positive feedback loops have become widespread in scientific discourse.

The need to understand global warming and climate change constitutes a high level complex problem for those whose duty it is to understand the phenomena. This complexity includes society and social relations, which means that the social sciences have to respond to the changes manifested in society, as well as to the changes in public, scientific, and political discourse.

It is such changes within science that have pushed climate change to the fore as a political problem. Climate science has become a springboard for topics that keep appearing on the political agenda, and which are a cause of political negotiations and conflicts.

Research into the geophysical processes of anthropogenic climate change is constantly improving and one can assume that contributions to understanding this phenomenon will further improve. However, the burning issue of social reactions relating to political, economic, and social structures; the relations between human action and beliefs, and between natural processes and social consequences remains. Climate change, therefore, is not an exclusively environmental problem but is also connected to a wide array of social and political issues, first and foremost to the question of the environmental sustainability of the current generation’s lifestyles, that is, towards questions regarding the planet, and humanity’s survival.

 

A Political answer to the climate change problem

Climate changes do not only mark the consequences of human influence on the global environment but also require an unprecedented political consensus necessary to stop the global average temperature rise (preferably through reducing and stopping the emission of greenhouse gases) and alleviating the consequences of climate change. The international political response to climate change is reflected in the Kyoto Protocol and attempts to establish a new agreement which should have followed it in 2013. Since the Kyoto Protocol and the international negotiations that followed did not yield the desired results, an increasing number of sociologists are considering the option of using alternative political and legal instruments which would serve as a model for creating a new, more efficient global climate change policy. Attempts to create a new agreement include analysis and reviews of market mechanisms, regulatory approaches, decentralisation and the democratisation of the decision-making process, ways of connecting heterogenous opportunities, or a new universal policy to be conducted by international community elites.

Olmsted and Stavins (2012) believe that global climate policy has to contain three elements in order to be successful: a) a framework which will ensure the participation of developing countries; b) an emphasis on extended deadlines or emission reduction goals; and c) flexible, market-oriented mechanisms that will enable a lower cost for emission reduction. Even though the authors claim that the Kyoto Protocol was oriented towards short-term emission reduction and included only developed countries, a proposal currently under their consideration may be equally inefficient. Unclear goals with delayed actions and without short-term mechanisms for implementation and monitoring have a much bigger chance of failure than modest short-term goals. The participation of developing countries is expected in the post-Kyoto period, with a particular emphasis on historical rights and common but differentiated responsibilities. The necessity of developing countries’ participation in international negotiations has not been questioned so far, but it is important to bear in mind aspects of climate justice and complex geopolitical and economic relations between the developed and the developing countries, in which the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities is used as an excuse for avoiding international obligations for emission reduction. In addition, the flexible mechanisms that rely on market regulation were included in the first period of the Kyoto Protocol, but even they have not ensured a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. The elements of international climate policy to which Olmsted and Stavins refer actually make up declarations that stem from international negotiations concerning climate change since 2009. The analysts regard these as inefficient, non-binding, unclear in terms of goals, declarative, and in any case, a step away from an agreement that would ensure a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions as recommended by the scientists spearheaded by the IPCC.

Some authors believe that the key lies in connecting heterogeneous and decentralised policies, as experience shows that a universal and global agreement is almost impossible to accomplish (Metcalf & Weisbach 2010, Hayward 2008).They claim that the global trend is a step further away from a universal policy for creating and implementing various local, national, and regional level policies. These policies include various implementation mechanisms, from the market-oriented to regulatory mechanisms in which the state has the key role. In order to avoid the recent errors of several regional policies, such as carbon leakage, the authors find it necessary to establish legal instruments for connecting heterogeneous policies instead of homogenising the existing policies. The linking mechanisms would allow each country to determine how to control its emissions for itself, but they would also establish a network that would prevent the shortcomings with which previous international climate policy was faced. The precondition for efficient regional or national policies is the establishment of a unique price for carbon. In this case, the linking policy would enable an interaction between various regional emission reduction policies, which would reduce the cost of climate policies aimed at alleviating climate damage. Bearing this in mind, it is important that all countries making a large contribution to total emissions of greenhouse gases take part in the integrating of these heterogeneous policies.

However, what the advocates of such an approach are failing to see is a need for drastic short-term emission reduction in order for global warming to remain within the margins humanity will be able to bear. Regardless of whether this is achieved through a universal policy or a network of policies, it is necessary to extensively redirect the economic policies of both developed and developing countries. It is this, and not the lack of flexibility of existing instruments concerning the Kyoto Protocol that constitutes an obstacle to efficient international climate change policies.

Bearing this in mind, Vezirgiannidou (2009) emphasises the participation of all countries as a precondition for efficiency of (and the ability to implement) any international agreement. This has to be done in a way which ensures their participation. Even though maximising the participation of all countries is necessary for efficient international policy, it can lead to “weaker” agreements as a large number of various interests and potential conflicts lead to a solution using “the lowest common denominator”. Guided by the example of the Montreal Protocol, the Vezirgiannidou suggests a plausible framework for generating climate policy. Universal participation does not have to be ensured immediately to keep track of climate justice and the (in)abilities of undeveloped countries, but this can be done within a certain time frame. Contrary to the practice of helping, the author suggests that, in order to increase participation, a combination of strict institutionalised mechanisms with determined sanctions and help for undeveloped countries would be useful in order to ensure participation and efficiency. In the context of climate change, an agreement between the countries emitting the largest amount of greenhouse gases regarding detailed measures and policies for emission reduction in accordance with reduction goals, should include market instruments that would provide financial benefits to the participants and would disadvantage those that are not participating. Vezirgiannidou argues that a detailed elaboration of a political and legal framework which would ensure the participation and implementation of further agreements would prevent the shortcomings of the previous (Kyoto) protocol and ensure quality monitoring, implementation, and efficiency of the agreement, combining it with a demand for urgent action.

The increasing complexity of climate change policy, which in this case does not refer simply to particular industrial processes (as was the case with the Montreal Protocol) but all aspects of human activity, makes reaching an agreement which would serve as a new political framework for the international community much more difficult. In addition, the success of reaching an international agreement ultimately depends on the political will of member states to take part in such an agreement and to establish the need to reach a new agreement which has only been considered a delayed option until now.

 

Croatia as a high emission society?

The social causes of climate change are a result of the social organisation of life.  Increase in emissions is not a result of individual behaviour and choices but is caused by historically rooted modes – systems – in which certain types of social practice are established and maintained in interaction with nature’s carbon cycle. This interaction enabled deeply rooted routines and lifestyles that constitute modern culture and technology and define desired forms of accepted behaviour in many contemporary societies.

The standard of living in the wealthy North which has been marked by an increase in income, security, mobility, prosperity, and a longer life expectancy, has become standard in Eastern Europe from 1945 onward, and especially following the collapse of communism in 1989 (Urry 2011.). The socialist countries of Central and South Eastern Europe experienced intense transitional changes (political systems, systems of ownership, culture, etc.).

In terms of the organisation of production and overall social life, Croatia follows the example of developed countries, having moved to a capitalist mode of development. This means that the process of “carbonisation” is an inevitable process which accompanies the overall production process and the organisation of life. 

Urry (2011) detects five notable systems, each possessing a powerful “conservative moment”, pointing to “the path dependence” of large socio-technical systems:

  • the development of systems of electric power generation and consumption (especially fossil fuels), and national electric grids which ensure that all homes in the developed North are lit, heated, and supplied with electricity-based consumer goods;
  • the expansion of fossil fuel-based automobiles and roads, along with a widespread infrastructure connecting remote places of residence, work, and rest;
  • the development and expansion of suburban settlements, located away from places of work to which one must travel by car, and furnishing homes with consumer goods, such as televisions and other electric appliances;
  • the increasing ownership (especially in the private sector) of places of rest, supermarkets, theme parks, stadiums, and restaurants that are travelled to by car or plane, and which also involve the long-distance transportation of goods (Urry 2011: 51-52).

These are not only social patterns or individual preferences, but also high carbon systems. Each of these systems simultaneously include trade, transportation, and consumption and each of them constitutes an important condition for the existence of other connected systems.

When talking about net emissions of greenhouse gases, Croatia is in the middle between rich countries that are high emitters and poor countries that are low emitters. If we take into consideration the emission per capita, Croatia moves a few spots higher. In its history, Croatia has recorded two major drops in emissions. The first occurred immediately after it became independent and was caused the by the breakdown of the economy due to war.  During the UN meeting on climate in Morocco in 2001 (COP7), Croatia asked for its greenhouse gases quotas to be increased for the base year, 1990, as this was the year in which Croatia was founded under the specific conditions of war. At the moment of its creation, Croatia took part in the construction and consumption of energy outside its borders on the territory of former Yugoslav countries. In fact, Croatia received 22 % of its energy from these power stations. Taking into account that the initial greenhouse gas quotas were higher (as energy consumption was higher), the reduction in emissions would ultimately be smaller for Croatia. Even though the quotas were permitted at the meeting of parties present at the Kyoto Protocol in Nairobi in 2006, in 2009 (just before the Copenhagen conference) the UN Executive Board for the Kyoto Protocol revoked Croatia’s starting (higher) emission quotas which put Croatia in an unfavourable position. At the Copenhagen conference, Croatia reissued its request and de facto requested a 6% increase in emission, at a time when even undeveloped countries committed, at least declaratively, to reduce emission by twenty or more percent in the following ten years or until 2050.

The second major reduction in greenhouse gas emissions occurred parallel to the great economic crisis in 2008. A similar event took place in almost all developed countries, in which the crisis resulted in many industrial complexes being closed down and a decrease in the consumption of energy. Therefore, the reduced emission of greenhouse gases (in Croatia and the rest of the world) was not a result of conscious efforts and creative policies, but a result of economic crisis. Another element that surely influenced emission reduction in Croatia was population change: Croatia had a negative natural change, that is, a decrease in the number of inhabitants which to some degree implies reduced consumption and consequently, a decrease in emissions (Nejašmić and Mišetić 2004.).

If we go back a little earlier, the picture becomes much clearer. In the period before the economic crisis, from 1990 to 2007, emissions in Croatia had grown by 3.2 percent from the base year. An inadequate government engagement concerning climate change was confirmed by the Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI), an instrument which aims to show the efficiency of climate change policy in 57 countries that are responsible for over 90 % of global CO2 emissions. In fact, ever since the Kyoto Protocol was ratified, the efficiency of the greenhouse gases reduction policy has been marked as “poor” by the CCPI. The biggest increase in CO2 emissions has been recorded in the energetics and industrial processes sectors.

Fossil fuel energy is one of the biggest sources of carbon dioxide in the world. Croatia gets the majority of the energy it produces from fossil fuels (for which the energetics sector contributes more than 74% of total greenhouse gas emissions), which means that a large amount of greenhouse gases that Croatia emits relates to carbon dioxide, even more than 75%. Supply problems concerning non-renewable energy sources (mostly oil), and climate change go hand in hand as energy-intensive systems and systems of centralised electrification are one of five major interdependent locked-in systems that make up the high emission society. Croatia has inherited the centralised, highly energy-intensive systems from the previous political system along with its political situation and attitude towards the environment. Following its dependence, it did not develop sustainable energetic strategies but continued down an old path that was not characterised by the ecological modernisation of energetics and development in the direction of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in this sector.

Another feature of modern systems, or high emission systems, is spatial mobility. This is reflected in Croatian society as well, as its certain patterns of increased consumption and high mobility resembles (and aspires to resemble) Western consumer societies. An interesting fact in this context is that, even in the crisis years when the total emissions from the energetics sector dropped due to decreased consumption, the emissions from the traffic subsector increased by more than 50 % relative to the base year.

In terms of territory and population, Croatia is a small country and is not a major polluter on a global level. As a transitional society, Croatia has found itself within the context of market globalization, forced to adapt to social processes that are destructive in some aspects of development, especially in terms of its effect on the environment (Lay 2003).   Anthropogenic global warming is an example of global pollution that transcends national boundaries and Croatia will not be able to avoid further deterioration in the quality of life caused by climate change. We agree with the opinion that despite this, Croatia may still pursue a strategy that will nurture the “culture, measures, and practice for preserving nature and the environment (…) for long-term social gain” (Lay 2003, 322). In addition, in the context of systems science that focuses on the interrelatedness between systems, it is clear that measures for reducing greenhouse gas emissions directly correlate with overall sustainability, independence, and the quality of life. Even though there has been a trend towards decreased emissions from 2008 onward, analysis of the causes of such trends and of basic strategies regarding attitudes towards controlling the emission of greenhouse gases (energy strategies and sustainable development strategies) shows that the overall development trend is not in the direction of low emission societies. All sectors are in need of public and economic policies aimed towards the decarbonisation of society.

The state and the efficiency of measures for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Croatia

Even though Croatia ratified the Kyoto protocol and implemented some measures to reduce emissions, Croatia did not achieve the desired results. Climate policy is complex and in order to be successful, it has to incorporate instruments and measures from all economic sectors. In addition, climate policy has to use positive instruments that would enable multi-level benefits (Giddens 2009, Latin 2012). Giddens explains the comprehensiveness of climate change though the term “political convergence”. Latin explains the same idea with the term “strategy of pure replacement technology”. Both terms denote the extent to which political measures for reducing greenhouse gas emissions overlap with other public policy measures so that they mutually support and strengthen each other and bring multiple benefits. It is also important that the overlap between these measures is positive and that the measures themselves are positive, that is, that they support not just economic prosperity, but overall social development and quality of life, in both the short and long term.

In the following part of our work, we shall present the results of research concerning the situation and the efficiency of policies and measures in Croatia for reducing climate change. The research presented is a part of a wider study conducted in the scope of a doctoral dissertation. In this work, we focussed on the aspects of our study that are used to analyse the state of climate policies in Croatia, as well as obstacles to implementing measures for reducing emission within the climate policy framework.

 

Methodology

In order to describe the situation and the efficiency of policies aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emission in Croatia, we have decided to conduct qualitative research. Since there have not yet been any studies of this type on this topic in Croatia, our study has a guiding character. We have tried to give an overview of this field, without in-depth and detailed analysis of every specific topic that were found to be relevant for this work. The qualitative approach has allowed us to gain better insight into the area without any further knowledge (studies) which would permit us the a priori creation of categories. A qualitative approach also allows us to understand and explain the state and efficiency of climate policies in Croatia, from the perspective of crucial actors, directly or indirectly involved in processes of decision making and policy implementation.

The main goal of this research is to explore the views of the relevant practitoiners (i.e. actors from public administration, civil, science, political and business sectors) concerning the state and efficiency of climate change policy in Croatia, and also their views on (possible) implementation obstacles to these policies. This should give us a better understanding of state and efficiency of the national climate policy. The main hypothesis put forward in our research is that the relevant actors from public administration and politics do not create a coherent and efficient climate politics.

As concerns the survey questions in this study, we decided to gather data through semi-structured interviews. This enabled us to gather a broad spectre of data and information, but also to keep track of particular topics of interest. We used open-ended questions to allow participants to give us their broad opinion on the different aspect of the matter under consideration.

Since the study involved actors from five social sectors, we used additional questions to adapt the interviews where necessary, according to the level of expertise of various actors in order to cover all basic topics that the author initially created. In some cases, new questions were added as new information appeared in earlier interviews. The interview was divided into four basic areas: climate changes as a problem, global climate politics, domestic climate politics, context and implementation of measures for cutting GHG emissions in Croatia.

The material we obtained was then analysed by using particular procedures relevant to Grounded Theory. The choice of method of data analysis depends on the research questions and research questions depend on their context and everything available to the researcher in this given context. The author chose the Grounded Theory procedures to process the data in order to interpret them in the best possible way, considering the nature of the given information (interviews concerning the attitude of crucial actors) and research aims (understanding certain social phenomena - in this case, the state and the efficiency of climate policies). Grounded Theory is an iterative process through which the researcher becomes increasingly “grounded” in the data and has the ability to develop complex concepts and models that explain the phenomenon in question. Using the Grounded Theory method, the researcher wants to identify the categories and concepts derived from the text and connect them with formal theories (Corbin, Strauss, 1990). Since the author's primary goal is not to develop a theory but to understand the social phenomenon, only certain procedures of Grounded Theory were used, such as multi-level coding and comparative analysis.

Since this is a narrow and highly specialised topic, we opted for a deliberate sample. The sample included relevant persons from the civil, business, and public sector, politics, and science. By doing things in this manner, we wanted to include key actors from all social sectors that are directly or indirectly involved in climate change policies in Croatia. Due to the diversity of relevant actors, we decided to divide the sample into five narrow sectors (groups), instead of a traditional distribution in democratic societies into three wider sectors (public, civil, and business). A total of 32 out of 40 contacted participants agreed to an interview: seven scientists, four politicians, four public administrators, eight members of non-governmental organisations and nine businessmen.

Results

Following the first reading of the data for analysis, the relevant topics and codes became apparent and answers to our research questions were constructed around them. Through multilevel coding we came to the final net of twenty-four codes divided into three topics:

 

CODES

TOPICS

Croatia has taken on too big a responsibility; Croatia has a comprehensive climate policy; Croatia does not have a comprehensive climate policy; there is a lack of long-term climate policy planning in Croatia; the EU influence on climate policy.

Climate change policy in Croatia

Fund: realistic role incongruent with the idea; Croatia will not achieve its reduction goals; unregulated emission reduction in Croatia.

Emission reduction in Croatia – the situation

Absurdities concerning the emission reduction policy; bureaucracy as an obstacle to development; existential questions have priority; measures are good but their implementation is not; inadequate basic strategies; lack of measures across sectors; no political will for climate policy; lack of understanding of climate policy; no cooperation among the government; disorganised public sector, lack of transparency in the fund’s work; partial measures due to EU pressure; obstacles within the system; a conflict of interests .

Obstacles to implementing emission reduction measures

The topic “Climate change policy (CP) in Croatia”

Croatia ratified the 2005 Kyoto Protocol and started implementing measures to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases. The level of emission reduction attained does not necessarily reflect a comprehensive and well-rounded climate policy. Due to the complexity of the problem itself and the legislative framework, particular measures from different sectors do not have to be compatible or even effective. The topic “Climate change policy in Croatia” includes four codes and fifty-eight quotes.

The question of whether Croatian climate policy is considered comprehensible or not yielded mostly negative opinions.

Table 1. Climate change policy in Croatia

 

Civil society

Politics

Public administration

Business

Science

TOTAL

We have a comprehensive CC policy as we adopted  it from the EU

0

0

1

1

0

2

Lack of long-term CC policy planning in Croatia

2

0

1

5

2

10

Influence of the EU on climate policy

5

0

1

6

5

17

Lack of a comprehensive CC policy in Croatia

9

3

1

5

10

28

CLIMATE CHANGE POLICY IN CROATIA

17

3

5

17

16

58

 

A negative response was the most common answer amongst participants from all sectors. The reason why most participants think that Croatian climate policy is not comprehensive largely refers to the lack of interdisciplinarity, a lack of cooperation amongst the ministries, and the lack of a framework which would encompass all measures from each sector, according to participants.

When explaining their attitude, the participants emphasise the lack of relatedness between particular measures, i.e. paradoxes across certain measures which disables implementation, thanks to contrasting measures from other departments. This is a result of a lack of cooperation between the ministries, a lack of coordination and interdisciplinary thinking in the creation of complex policies, such as climate policy. When asked “What are the reasons for ineffective climate policy in Croatia?” the participants responded:

Scientist2: “There were some examples in countries where they exist, where the bodies that cover all ministries decide together. If a question is really important, the connection between institutions shows you how important the people find it to be. It apparently is not an important issue here as everyone decides for themselves…Each ministry has its jurisdictions and this policy is not entirely recognised in this aspect.”

The participants often stated that neither the wider environmental protection policy nor the climate change policy was set up systematically.

Politician4: “I think they have opened a way towards thinking about the necessity of a comprehensive system within Croatia, but I think we are far from having a comprehensive nature protection policy and climate protection policy.“

Another recognised problem is the lack of staff in public administration dealing with this topic, which some participants perceive as a lack of political agility regarding climate policy. This reflects the lack of systematic implementation of particular measures for greenhouse gas emission reduction and a lack of long-term planning. Croatia has certain legislation and subordinate legislation that refer to emission reduction, but a certain number of participants think that these regulations are not implemented, which resulted in an increased emission of greenhouse gases. In addition, one gets the impression that political planning is done only within a single term which prevents creating a comprehensive climate policy which should set goals for a much longer period (the following twenty to fifty years). According to participants the lack of political will is also reflected in the lack of institutional cooperation on the same problem. On this topic, the participants once again referred to examples from foreign countries in which government bodies coordinate climate policy and they recognized that as an important problem in political leadership. Therefore, a lack of communication between institutions is an indicator of the government’s stance on climate change, which leads us to conclude that the Croatian government still has not recognized this problem as an important one. When asked “Does Croatia have a comprehensive climate policy?” a scientist answered:

Scientist1: “No, we do not. If we start from the top, that is, the public administration, government, ministries – they are the ones creating and implementing the policy and monitoring if their design is achieved. I don’t think these policies are connected there nor can you clearly say ‘This is the climate change policy and it consists of policies for energetics, industry, transportation, finance…’”

When talking about the lack of long-term planning, a number of the participants reflected on Croatia joining the climate policy discussion through the signing of the Kyoto agreement. They are dissatisfied with governments’ unpreparedness when entering negotiations on climate and the poor negotiation body which put all those obliged by this agreement into an unfavourable position. Comparative analysis allowed us to notice that such opinion was voiced by the participants who believed that the quotas assigned to Croatia through this protocol were unjust. The possibility of not fulfilling these goals was seen as a responsibility of the delegation who gained a poor starting position in the negotiations, and not as a problem of Croatia’s climate policy.

“Unpreparedness” is reflected in the later phase of climate policy preparation, that is, the harmonisation of chapters on the environment during Croatia’s accession to the European Union; a number of participants found that adopting the framework came down to copying EU regulations without adapting these regulations to particular conditions and other public policies in Croatia.

Apart from that, certain participants detected a lack of long-term planning in current Croatian government projects, mostly related to industry and energetics, which largely contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.

Only two participants think that Croatia has a comprehensive climate policy. They base their attitude on the claim that Croatia took on EU climate policy during its negotiations and that this policy is regarded as good and comprehensive.

Even without being prompted directly about it, a large number of participants refered to the influence of the European Union on Croatia’s internal politics, which is reflected in climate policy as well. A number of participants with negative opinions concerning Croatian climate policy have the attitude that the European legal framework will bring the desired results in the future. These participants believe that EU membership will compel actors in Croatia to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This mostly refers to public administration through enforcing European goals and implementation instruments, as well as industry through the emission trading scheme. The participants who share this view, much like the supporters of European climate policy, do not find the fact that Croatia joining the EU does not change the governing structure and implementation instruments to be relevant. By joining the ETS (Emission Trading Scheme), the industry will have to make certain adjustments, that is, purchase certain permits for emissions.  These costs will eventually be shifted onto consumers, thus neutralising a part of their costs. Even though this does not guarantee a reduction of emissions in industry or energetics, or any other sector for that matter, the participants have the impression that our obligations towards the European Union will make us more responsible in managing emissions and related costs (in particular, the Environmental Protection and Energy Efficiency Fund). When asked “How do you view the influence of EU policy on climate policy in Croatia?” the participants provided two-sided answers:

Businessman1: “Unfortunately, this has to happen, I have always said that I am for Croatia joining the EU, as I believed this would have positive results, be a step forward, a framework in which you move and you get less room for manoeuvre…”

Some participants, when reflecting on the influence of the EU on domestic climate change policy, talk about the influence of the EU on withdrawing demand for the revision of quotas. In this respect, the influence of the EU is understood to be negative, especially in terms of participants’ attitude towards the justification of Croatia’s request. In addition, a number of the participants regard the EU’s influence on climate policy during the negotiations as negative as they think that no attention was paid to the quality of adaptation of Croatian legislature to the European framework due to the rush to meet the EU deadlines, although we think that the European Union should not be held accountable for that. This is illustrated in the response from one of the participants from the business sector to this question:

Businessman8: “We are always caught up in some deadline to meet certain EU demands and what has always troubled me was ‘let it go now, let’s meet the EU demands, and we will take care of it as we go’ – so many things were done superficially.”

The topic “Emission reduction in Croatia – the situation”

Much like the state of the country’s climate policy, the participants reported on the state of greenhouse gas emission reduction in Croatia and on future aims for reduction. When asked about their attitude concerning Croatia’s climate policy,  participants often referred to the real state of reduction/increase of emission, and the role of the Environmental Protection and Energy Efficiency Fund (hereafter: the Fund). We think that concentrating on these two topics is not arbitrary. Perhaps unconsciously, the participants speak of the two most obvious indicators of how climate policy in Croatia works, as the functionality of the policy is reflected through (un)achieved results, and the Fund represents one of the most important instruments for investments in emission reduction in industry and energetics (the largest emitters). The topic “Emission reduction in Croatia – the situation” includes four codes and twenty-six quotes.

Table 2. Emission reduction in Croatia – the situation

 

Civil society

Politics

Public administration

Business

Science

TOTAL

 “The state has not done anything”

1

0

0

0

2

3

Fund: a realistic role incongruent with the idea

3

0

1

4

0

8

Croatia will not achieve its reduction goals

0

2

1

3

2

8

Uncontrolled emission reduction in Croatia

1

2

2

0

2

7

EMISSION REDUCTION IN CROATIA – THE SITUATION

5

4

4

7

6

26

A number of participants wanted to express their doubts over achieving certain goals relating to emission reduction, such as increasing energetic efficiency through increasing the share of renewable energy sources. This almost completely refers to goals set by the European Union for 2020. The reasons for this current attitude lie in the lack of infrastructure and projects for renewable energy sources, and the current state of such power plants in Croatia. Aware that we are far from the goals that were set for 2010, the participants find it impossible to achieve such a “leap” in order to fulfil the goal of 20 % of energy sources being renewable. The lack of market for quotas and political planning (converging policies) are also stated as reasons for thinking that Croatia will not fulfil these goals. When asked “Why do you think Croatia will

not achieve the set goals in emission reduction in the framework of EU climate policy?” the participants provided the following answers:

Scientist1 “… the problem is that there is no such market in Croatia. It exists in Europe, but here no company has to buy carbon and we have already lost the chance to make this switch in this short period, for someone in Croatia national electric company (HEP) or our cement industry to say ‘let’s go change something.’”

Scientist7: “We had partial goals for 2010 that we missed by a wide margin and I believe we will not achieve these goals either, but I think it’s more important that we at least try to achieve this, to make pre-conditions.”

However, a common attitude among the participants is that it is not so important to fulfil the goals as to move towards them.

With reference to the previous code, a number of participants finds that the “state has not done anything” to achieve these goals. Even though a large number of measures have been established, the participants did not find the results apparent. They have a feeling that it is another case of a ''business-as-usual'' scenario, despite the declarative dedication to greenhouse gas emission reduction.

This brings us to the attitudes of participants towards the Fund’s actions. The participants from the civil and business sector believe that its realistic role is not congruent with its original idea. The basic purpose of the Fund is considered to be the reduction of emissions at their source by reinvesting the money charged to industry and citizens, in which the Fund eliminates its own purpose as it removes the focal points of greenhouse gas emissions. The Fund is perceived to be radically different: first of all, the participants think that it has not fulfilled its basic function of reinvestment into projects for reducing emissions, which leaves an impression of dysfunctionality concerning the state’s base instrument for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. When asked “Why do you find the realistic role of the Fund incongruent with the nominal role?” a participant from the civil sector gave the following answer:

Civil-society1: “…however, the Fund did completely the opposite. It cemented its survival, it dealt with things that were not their job, and it is funded by industry – I don’t know if any of these companies that paid for these emissions, that any of them got any money back, which I think is an error on behalf of the public sector as a whole.”

Some participants mention numerous specific examples from their own experience regarding an inability to fund projects for emission reduction of which the Fund is in charge. Members of the business sector feel the most struck by this situation as they are the ones to whom this money should have returned in order for them to be able to finance projects that would reduce their costs of entering the ETS system.

The accomplished greenhouse gas emission reduction in Croatia, according to the participants, is not the result of a joint effort of public administration, entrepreneurs and citizens, but a result, or even a by-product of (economic) processes that marked the past several years in Croatia and Europe. The economic crisis that hit the global economic market in 2008, from which most countries have yet to recover, has resulted in decreased production in some countries which in turn resulted in a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. According to the participants, this was the case in Croatia where a combination of conditions resulted in a decrease in greenhouse gas emissions to the level specified by the Kyoto protocol. The reason for this, according to the better informed participants, are several years with hydrologically favourable conditions which resulted in a greater level of production from the hydroelectric power plants, a continuous decline in the number of cattle in the country and significantly decreased production in high emission industries, such as the cement and lime industry. Such an attitude is shared by all participants and is confirmed by participants from the public administration while the participants from the business sector chose not to comment on this topic.

 

The topic “Obstacles to implementing emission reduction measures”

After discussing the situation concerning climate policy in Croatia and after having expressed the opinion that Croatia does not have a comprehensive systematic climate change policy, we asked participants to explain some of the measures for implementing emission reduction. The topic “Obstacles to implementing emission reduction measures” consists of sixteen codes and one hundred and two quotes.

The topic includes some codes that are not grounded, that is, those that appear only once or twice in the transcripts. These will not be given much attention, as they do not represent the predominant perception of the problem, but we wanted to present them in the figure and the table in order to depict the diversity of attitudes.

Table 3. Obstacles to implementing emission reduction measures in Croatia

 

Civil society

Politics

Public administration

Business

Science

TOTAL

Absurd emission reduction policy

3

0

0

1

0

4

Bureaucratisation as an obstacle to development

3

2

1

2

0

8

Existential questions have priority

0

3

2

0

0

5

Emission reduction measures: things are slowly going in the right direction

0

0

1

0

0

1

Measures are good but their implementation is not

8

0

2

6

5

21

Inadequate base strategies

 (ES and SD)

4

0

1

2

1

8

Lack of sector measures

1

0

0

0

2

3

Some individuals have more rights than others

0

0

1

0

0

1

No dialogue between the sectors

1

0

1

2

1

5

No political will for CC policy

7

0

0

2

3

12

No understanding of CC policy in Croatia

1

0

1

0

2

4

Unorganised public sector

2

0

0

4

0

6

Lack of transparency regarding the activities of the Fund

7

1

0

3

2

13

Partial measures due to pressure from the EU

2

0

1

1

1

5

Conflict of interest

0

0

0

0

4

4

Obstacles within the system

1

0

0

0

1

2

OBSTACLES TO IMPLEMENTATION OF EMISSION REDUCTION MEASURES

50

7

11

23

22

102

According to the claim most frequently heard in the interviews, certain measures for emission reduction are good but their implementation is not. This claim was present in many answers in which the participants elicited specific problems of the system not functioning, such as corruption, a lack of finance, procedural dilemmas etc. For the researcher this creates an impression of chaos for the researcher as concerns the implementation of measures where a set of measures is not created to contribute to the common goal of reducing the emissions. In other words, it leaves the impression that there is a large number of individual, unrelated measures of emission reduction that are not necessarily poorly devised but are simply not implemented, their effects being lost in other procedures, and no monitoring that would ensure their consistent implementation and the removal of obstacles. When asked “What are the obstacles to implementing emission reduction measures in Croatia?” the participants gave the following reasons:

Civil-society2: “…from subsidies that formally exist but are hard to obtain, to the corrupt Fund which spent or stole every penny, to HEP’s monopoly that does not allow anyone else to connect to the grid, and if they do connect, it takes a long time before they start paying and you need some 40 permits – this is insane!”

Lack of trust in government institutions refers to both the inspectorates and the Ministry itself. The participants report a complete absence of control. Administrative obstacles to the implementation of emission reduction measures are also often cited, as well as inefficient distribution of jurisdiction among the bodies. It is often reported that the problem is not the legislature but its implementation, not just by those in positions of responsibility but also from the bodies that prescribe these laws, that is, those who write subordinate legislature which creates the conditions for their implementation in the relevant context. The lack of coordination between institutions in creating legislature, a lack of converging policies, a lack of adaptation to the newly introduced laws (since the EU accession process commenced) to specific situations in Croatia, a lack of expertise and poor communication with other social sectors – these are the main obstacles for the implementation of measures that the participants report.

The lack of control is reflected in the lack of monitoring which makes the process of proving the effects of reduction measures impossible. The participants also express doubts regarding the information that public administration institutions publish, as well as doubt regarding the number of parafiscal charges collected and invested, and the real situation as concerns greenhouse gas emissions. When asked about the situations relating to the monitoring system for the implementation of measures in Croatia, participants from public administration replied:

Public-administrator4: “Well, the question is whether the data are correct. Because our policy and our general system are not bad. I think some should even look up to it, however, we have one thing on paper and another thing in practice, so the question is whether the data reflect the real state of things and whether those charges  paid are really so...”

Despite constant reiteration that the legislature is not the problem but its implementation, comparative analysis shows that the participants often provide conflicting answers and use examples to illustrate the problems that occur in the aftermath of poorly constructed regulations, and those that are a consequence of implementation. This reflects the total organisational form of the regulations, their level of detail and their compatibility with regulations from other departments.

Public-administrator1: “If the agency has its register of environmental pollution, you have the information that they [industry] will report into one base and you will report on them into another. This should not happen because you do not have a body that would control both databases. Then the law is sometimes vague, which means you are told that each county has to check the data on its own, and they do not have adequately trained staff…”

When talking about unorganised reduction measures, the participants put into question the issue of political priorities. By this logic, if emission reduction is one of the government’s priorities, actions from above should make sure this goal is achieved. This reflects the need for a strong state and its responsibility for reducing greenhouse gases.

One can conclude that despite taking over the EU regulation measures, climate policy in Croatia does not contain all the necessary elements and cannot be conducted. Such policy can ultimately have a strategy (in this case, for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions) that is supported by various laws but cannot be implemented.

We may find a good example in the code regarding the lack of trust in one of the main instruments for greenhouse gas emission reduction – the Environmental Protection and Energy Efficiency Fund. Just before this study commenced, the Fund’s chairman was prosecuted and convicted for embezzlement and corruption, which only reaffirmed the opinion of the study participants regarding the responsibility of the public sector for unsuccessful climate policy in Croatia. The participants emphasise the disproportion between the money accumulated by the Fund and the projects it accomplished, expressing their doubts regarding the criteria that were used to decide on co-financing for various energetic efficiency or renewable energy projects. The participants think that the Fund defeats its purpose and creates an image of having a lack of transparency as the criteria used to distribute the money are unclear and not available to business subjects as interested parties. Some participants see this as deliberate creation of conditions that would allow money to be embezzled. In addition, the results of the Fund’s activities are unclear, and they are not visible in measures or efficiency studies, if they even exist. When asked to express their attitude concerning their (mis-)trust in the state system for emission reduction and the system for monitoring the efficiency of emission reduction measures, one participant from the civil society sector reported:

Civil-society1: “...in the situation we have been living in with Kyoto for the past six years, aware of the regulations and formulas used to show emissions, and which measures are permitted to decrease the emissions – comes a Fund chairman who starts yelling about how they reduced five hundred thousand tons of CO2using their own measures…Alright, where do you see it in our national plan? If you created some subsidies, then you should be able to see it in Croatia’s balance.”

We are drawn to the conclusion that there is a notable systematic error in the Fund’s creation when you take all information and attitudes into consideration; much like with the implementation of climate policy, except this is a case of conflict of interest in the way that an institution acts. In this particular case, the Fund is the body which collects the money and decides on its distribution. Therefore, there is no triangle of organisations – one which creates the legislative framework (the ministry), one that determines the criteria for choice of projects (separate agency), and one that would distribute the financial assets according to the legislative framework and external decision (the Fund). Since the Fund collects the money and decides how the money is spent, this creates an opportunity for a lack of transparency concerning the handling of money, that is, embezzlement, which is the reason the chairman of the Fund ended up in jail.

The lack of political will is also reflected in the lack of instruments and legislature for greenhouse gas emission reduction, in the lack of interest from the governing structures to deal with climate change as they have not been recognised as a priority, and within the prevailing interests that are not in accordance with measures for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, as some participants stated:

Scientist2: To have efficient measures, you have to carefully plan them. And people making the plans have different interests, especially in energetics. This means the obstacles are that those who are supposed to change things or do things differently are not planning anything. That is the main obstacle, and they will continue planning.”

 Civil-society2: “Some people see the problem as being in corrupted public administration. I think the inefficiency was not there on its own but was a result of scheming, either in the Fund or at the level of blocking certain investments at HEP or them maintaining their monopoly.”

The next most commonly mentioned codes refer to a gigantic bureaucratic system and the inadequacy of basic strategies that should support the climate policy of the state. The size of the bureaucracy affects the speed at which emission reduction projects are conducted and the motivation of private persons or potential investors. An inefficient bureaucratic system is shown to reflect the inefficiency and disorganisation of the public sector, essentially having reasons related to conflicted interests.

In addition to conflicting interests, many participants from the civil sector think that energy development strategies and sustainable development strategies lack vision. This lack of vision is reflected in their orientation towards minimal goals for emission reduction in energetics and an incomplete sustainable development strategy. Even though these strategies are a few years old, their results are still not visible to relevant actors. Another issue that is emphasized is the lack of connection between the strategies, as the sustainable development strategy should be the main document that is used to orient all the other development strategies. In addition, certain projections and projects in the energy development strategy are considered inadequate in the context of greenhouse gas emission reduction  and are perceived as projects that will keep the economy tied down to fossils fuels for the next twenty years.

The relevant actors also think that the strategies are not developed enough. This results in them being declarative strategies that are not implemented as there are no short-term plans for action in certain sectors. When asked “How do you rate the Sustainable Development Strategy and the Energy Strategy with regard to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions?” a participant from the business sector answered:

Businessman4: “The strategy is not developed into a strategy which should be public, business, and academic. It doesn’t have that “drill down” effect (…) that is well known in these circles that deal with sustainable development, socially responsible business and so on; you just can’t monitor all sides – state, public, academic, and business at the same level and I think we don’t have much chance for success.”

This again emphasizes the dissatisfaction of participants with the communication between certain sectors of society. The dialogue between the scientists, NGOs, entrepreneurs, and public administration is necessary in order to reach agreement and for the legislature to be implemented effectively. Dialogue and compromise are emphasised here. One can see that the participants think that each sector is “selfish” when lobbying for their own measures of greenhouse gas emission reduction and if some of them do not sacrifice their own interests, a compromise which would ensure implementation will not be possible to achieve. While some participants talk about connecting the sectors, others describe a “culture” of dialogues which would enable them to recognise a common goal for all sectors. When asked about their view on the role of other groups of actors included in this study with regard to participation in the creation of measures for emission reduction, the participant from the public administration expressed the following attitude:

Public-administrator3: “It is necessary for all sectors to have a dialogue as it can be used to reach a certain compromise which would be structured in such a way that it allows this framework to be implemented…because if we don’t have that, then we have laws, which might be phenomenal, but are not being implemented.

Some participants are still focussed on the lack of organisation of the public sector in terms of the absence of a main agenda according to which all members of various departments should act, and then the lack of public administration employees in the sector of climate change and in terms of the inefficient distribution of jobs and task prioritisation. Thus, some participants have the impression that the existing measures for greenhouse gas emission reduction are partly a result of pressure by the European Union and that these measures were taken over as partial, unrelated, unadjusted and therefore inefficient. This leads to many absurdities in climate policy, such as conflicting regulations, counter-effective subsidies etc., and many participants from the civil and business sector express their concern over this.

The participants see the motive for such a formal approach to climate policy as lying in the fact that the government finds this problem relatively unimportant. Due to the economic recession, a large number of unemployed people, poor industrial production, and a large number of people below the poverty line, some of our participants emphasise that existential issues take priority. That is, every segment of the public administration, or every ministry is trying to solve immediate social problems, thus contributing to short-term economic progress, which is sometimes opposed to long-term climate policies. When asked “Do you think the emission reduction is a priority for the government?” a participant from the field of politics answered:

Politician4: “I am aware of what should be done and how the ministry of agriculture and regional development and the ministry of finance should join in, but I think, considering the situation in the country, that they do not think this as a priority…unfortunately.”

 

Conclusion

The participants were almost unanimous in their stance that the policy for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions created by the government and implemented by the public administration is neither comprehensive nor efficient.

The participants see Croatia’s climate policy more as a set of unrelated and incomplete measures that aim to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, than a systematic policy which has a clearly defined goal and straightforward instruments that are connected in all sectors and which include political convergence. The most commonly mentioned causes for the non-existence of comprehensive policy are a lack of interest or knowledge from persons responsible for drafting climate policy. This is compounded by the lack of cooperation between ministries, lack of coordination between sector measures and the lack of long-term planning crucial for climate policy. However, some participants have a positive opinion concerning the development of climate change policy in the near future, partly due to the European Union and partly due to a new Minister (who, in the meantime, has resigned from her position).

Special attention was given to the causes of the inefficient implementation of measures for greenhouse gas emission reduction. The participants’ opinions regarding the obstacles for implementing the emission reduction measures are characterised by dissatisfaction with relevant actors involved in the implementation. By stating the whole array of reasons, that is, the obstacles to carrying out the emission reduction measures, the participants often contradict themselves but concrete problems illustrate the extent of problems and the grounds for their dissatisfaction with the implementation of measures. The total number of codes on this topic contributes to the impression of “chaos” among the measures for greenhouse gas emission reduction as they were not created so as to lead towards a common goal. Even though there are a large number of individual measures to reduce the emissions, their efficiency is lost in procedural vagueness and the lack of coordination with other measures, and there is no quality system of monitoring that would direct attention to specific problems.

An opinion often voiced is that Croatia joining the European Union should result in positive effects the adopted legal framework and through the international emission trading system. However, this does not take into account the fact that changing some settings as concerns the political context does not change the governing and administrative structure in the state, which will be reflected in the further (in)efficiency of climate policy. Special attention should be paid to the absence of international, legally binding agreements that would bind the countries to fulfil the goals by written sanctions. Taking this into consideration in the context of climate policy, the attitude towards the defining effect of the European Union on Croatian climate policy is in contrast with the opinion that the inefficient climate policy in Croatia is a result of a negative attitude of the government towards the problem of climate change.

One can conclude from the opinions of the participants that some of the basic elements such a policy should have are lacking: a legal framework, instruments for implementation, monitoring and sanctions. Even though the country created the legal framework, it did not take care of the system of implementing the emission reduction measures – and this primarily refers to the lack of organisation, the incompatibility of certain measures from various departments, legal paradoxes, a gigantic bureaucracy, a lack of staff etc. – and it completely ignored the system for monitoring which resulted in an inability to assess what has been done and the inability to correct one’s mistakes.

The problems of climate policy such as the lack of relations between institutions, a lack of coordination of sector policies, and the general inefficiency of climate policy are often perceived as the result of the government’s attitude towards the problem of climate change. If we leave out the conflicts of interest groups and lobbying and corruption, which appeared as one of the topics in the interviews, the poor state of climate policy is, according to everything stated above, an indicator of the inability to recognise and understand the importance of climate change, consequently located so low on the list of priorities. In the context of the overall quality of life in the country, we should also add that solving immediate existential issues such as the high unemployment rate and the large number of people below the poverty line is more important and is a higher priority for this government. In all this, the development potential of comprehensive climate policy remains unrecognised and the primary problems are solved through projects which are, despite being economically justified in the short-term, in conflict with the long-term efforts of the greenhouse gas emission reduction policy.

Given all that is stated above, the answer to the question put forward in the title of this article is obvious. Croatia is not yet ready for a coherent climate policy, not only due to deficiencies in legislature, but also due to basic structure of interrelations amongst actors from different social sectors, and due to reluctance of crucial actors in state structures for creating such a policy.

In this respect, the contribution of this research lies in the answers to basic questions regarding the relation of relevant actors to climate change policy in Croatia and in the creation of a new background for more detailed studies of all individual phenomena that have been shown to be relevant in this study.

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