Babiš at UN: Jobs must be protected as states meet climate targets

26-09-2019

Andrej Babiš highlighted environmental issues in an address to the UN General Assembly, saying the fact many states don’t fulfill their climate change commitments makes it harder for those that do to provide livelihoods for their citizens. The prime minister also referred to the Czech Republic’s recent past and plans for the future.

Andrej Babiš, photo: ČTK/AP/Frank Franklin IIAndrej Babiš, photo: ČTK/AP/Frank Franklin II Andrej Babiš began his address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Wednesday with a reference to the fact the Czech Republic is this year marking the 30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution.

Within 15 years of those momentous changes the country had joined both NATO and the EU, the Czech prime minister told world leaders.

But Mr. Babiš also emphasised that his government was looking to the future.

“We have a clear vision of and for 2030. It is based on exceptional support for research, development and innovation.

“In this light, we as the government approved an innovation strategy under the main motto ‘Czech Republic – the country for the future’.

“Under the same motto we will present a national economic strategy in which we will link science, industry, energy and education and will include the application of the most advanced technologies, from the full digitisation of the economy to the implementation of artificial intelligence in many sectors.”

The Czech leader also made reference to the EU, which he described as the world’s most successful peace project. He said the Council of Europe ought in the future to serve as a coalition government for the continent.

A good part of Andrej Babiš’s speech was given over to the environment.

The billionaire businessman said governments were having to walk a fine line between fulfilling climate targets and delivering for their own people.

Greta Thunberg, photo: ČTK/AP/Jason DeCrowGreta Thunberg, photo: ČTK/AP/Jason DeCrow “Our citizens expect us to provide them with the productive and sustainable jobs that they will not lose due to decreased competiveness which will occur if our countries adopt tougher, more ambitious measures to combat climate change than the rest of the world.”

The Czech PM said more should be done to ensure that renewable energy became more affordable and pointed out that nuclear energy was also a zero-carbon source. He also took a swipe at Swedish teenage activist Greta Thunberg.

“My country has no other option than the nuclear one and we must keep the sovereignty of our energy mix intact.

“These days climate change is a popular topic around the world, and the arguments are correct in many ways. Greta Thunberg has many interesting observations.

“Yet I'm not sure that emotional, hysterical theatrics and sometimes even aggressive speech lead to a rational discussion.

“And it is an unfair generalisation that nobody is doing anything. It is not true. Many of us are doing what we promised in our commitments.”

26-09-2019