Slovakian draft Recovery plan would allocate €3 billion for green, climate-friendly investment. But it can still do much better on energy efficiency, transport and participation.
In a nutshell:
- €3 billion for green investments, but still room for improvements
- Vague measures in energy efficiency and transport should be scrapped
- Until now, only sketchy public participation
Slovakia’s draft national Recovery plan would allocate nearly €3 billion for green, climate-friendly investments. The plan includes commendable aims to renovate buildings, pursue renewable energy sources, clean up dirty industries and develop more sustainable transport infrastructure.
However, the devil is in the details. One of the key problems of the Plan is that it is based on the outdated climate and energy strategies – the Low Carbon Strategy and the National Energy and Climate Plan, which was already obsolete when it was published in 2020. There was not enough political will in the government to develop a carbon-neutrality and decarbonization model appropriate for aligning the measures with 2030 and 2050 EU climate targets.
The proposed renovation and energy efficiency measures are littered with false solutions. Buildings renovation includes integrating various public support measures, increasing transparency, complex assessment of historical buildings, and dealing with construction waste. It remains difficult to assess to what extent these measures will contribute to climate neutrality targets. The investment package for improving energy efficiency in housing is also problematic, as it includes the allocation of €50 million for fossil gas boilers. This is based on the false presumption that low-income households would switch from cheaper fuels, such as wood and waste, to fossil gas – which is however significantly more expensive. The Ministry of the Environment should therefore replace fossil gas boilers with solar systems and heat pumps.
For the transport sector, despite significant investments for green transport, some measures still miss the mark. What is most problematic is the long-term support for the construction of infrastructure for alternative fuels (e-mobility and hydrogen) – and specifically, the allocation of €50 million for 1000 new electric and hydrogen recharge stations on Slovakian highways. This is yet another incentive to individual automobile transport, whereas funds should be spent on more efficient and environmentally sustainable public transport.
All the more frustrating is that many of the issues explored below could have been addressed during the planning, had the government set out a transparent process for public engagement in line with the Commission´s partnership principle. In fact, the Ministry only published the draft Slovakian Recovery plan for consultations on 8 March 2021: given this tight timeframe, the public participation in the planning process was mostly a box ticking exercise.