A group of eight environmental activists who forced their way into the
Vršany brown coal mine early on Tuesday to protest against continued
mining in the region remain on the grounds of the mine for a second day
The protest is an effort to prevent the planned sale of the coal-burning Počerady electric power plant to the group Se.ven Energy belonging to Czech billionaire Pavel Tykač. Police are monitoring the situation but have not so far intervened.
Academics and former politicians have also been petitioning the power utility ČEZ against the sale on the grounds that the plant’s continued operation would be in violation of the 2016 Paris Climate Agreement.
The newly established Coal Commission will meet for the first time on
Monday to discuss coal’s future role in the Czech Republic’s energy mix
and address how to manage its reduced production and use.
Environment Minister Richard Brabec (ANO) announced the creation of the Coal Commission this March. The 19-member advisory board is co-chaired by Brabec and Minister of Industry and Trade Karel Havlíček (ANO). It also includes experts appointed by relevant stakeholders, including industry, labour unions, NGOs and local communities.
Brabec said the main goal is to conduct a structured national debate on the transition from fossil fuels towards renewables and nuclear against the backdrop of combatting climate change.
The Czech Republic is the fifth-biggest polluter in Europe and the 20th in the world in terms of CO2 emissions and the key reason is coal-fired power plants.
Last year, brown coal-fired power plants produced the most electricity in the national energy mix (43 percent), followed by nuclear power plants (a third) and renewable sources (11 percent).
Activists from the Extinction Rebellion environmental group briefly blocked
the entrance to the Ministry for Regional Development on Prague’s Old
Town Square shortly before noon on Friday demanding that the government
reduce emissions from fossil fuels and achieve carbon neutrality by 2025.
The Ministry for Regional Development is represented in a government commission which will debate the gradual phasing out of coal mining and the country’s future energy mix. The activists argued that such a decision should be the result of a broad debate and consensus in society.
The Environment Ministry is to receive an additional 250 million crowns
from the state budget next year to fight drought, bringing the
ministry's 2020 budget to 16 billion crowns, Environment Minister
Richard Brabec said following talks with Finance Minister Alena Schillerova
on Thursday. The additional funds are to be used for long-term landscape
changes, the construction of artificial water basins, wetland restoration
and support for water saving projects.
On Monday, scientists from the Czech University of Agriculture, who conducted a study into the possible future impacts of drought on the Czech economy, said that the state should spend at least CZK 25 billion annually in order to contain water in the country’s soil.
More than half of the Czech Republic has been hit by exceptional or extreme drought and the situation is likely to get even worse within the next few days. According to the project InterSucho, which is mapping the current state of drought in the Czech Republic, some 63 percent of the country’s territory is currently affected, including the whole of Bohemia and northeast Moravia.
Rescue workers have removed the body of a miner who died in an explosion at
a mine in Karviná in the Moravian-Silesian Region in December. The remains
of four others are expected to be exhumed by the end of the month, a
spokesperson for the district state prosecutor’s office said.
Thirteen miners were killed when a methane explosion took place 800 metres below the ground at the ČSM-Sever mine. Most of the victims were Polish.