žilet žica, slovenija.jpg
Photograph: HINA/ ua

Protests against oil drilling in the Adriatic, the construction of the coal-fired power plant Plomin C and Slovenia's setting up of a razor-wire fence on the border with Croatia were the most significant events in the area of environment and nature protection in 2015.

Green activists staged several protests during the year against oil drilling in the Adriatic and the Plomin C project, calling for a low carbon dioxide development policy and a ban on coal-fired thermal power plants and oil drilling.

The government in September decided to revoke licences for hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation in the Adriatic for seven exploration fields, and postponed the signing of concession agreements for other fields for the period until after the parliamentary elections.

Representatives of the Croatian Green Action NGO were among tens of thousands of green activists from around the world who held mass protests in Paris on December 12 before the end of the international conference on climate COP21. Green Action president Bernard Ivcic said the result of the conference would not be satisfactory and the campaign against climate change would have to continue.

The end of the year was also marked by protests against Slovenia putting up a razor-wire fence on the border with Croatia, which has resulted in the death of a number of wild animals trying to pass through it. Activists from both sides of the border staged protests against the fence, and Croatian Environmental Protection Minister Mihael Zmajlovic asked the European Commission for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, that the fence be removed.

In 2015, the first two of 13 centres for waste management - Mariscina and Kastijun, which cover the areas of Primorje-Gorski Kotar and Istria counties - were completed. The total value of the two projects is more than half a billion kuna, of which 70% are EU funds. Contractors for three more waste management centres are about to be selected, while project documentation for the other centres is being prepared.

The ministry has said that close to HRK 5 billion, mostly EU money, has been secured for the construction of all waste management centres and that those centres will enable the closing of all waste disposal sites in the counties where they will be built and the creation of more than 1,000 jobs.

The Bridge coalition of independent slates has opposed the construction of waste management centres, claiming that the Croatian system of waste management is at the very bottom of the EU ranking in terms of the amount of sorted and recycled waste. Bridge therefore believes that stopping the construction of expensive waste management centres is the only economically and ecologically reasonable move.

The Environment and Nature Protection Ministry and the Environmental Protection and Energy Efficiency Fund in 2015 implemented a number of projects to increase the energy efficiency of family houses, apartment buildings and commercial and public buildings, facilitate energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy sources in tourism and industries, and co-finance the purchase of ecological vehicles and energy efficient household appliances.

Of 9,336 applications for the energy upgrading of family houses, 5,580 came from areas of special state interest, and they are to be co-financed with 80% of the amount needed. The energy upgrading of 284 apartment buildings was also approved.

Citizens showed great interest in a scheme to co-finance the purchase of energy efficient household appliances with the A+++ grade and bought 20,000 such appliances in two turns, with government grants amounting to HRK 800 per appliance. They also bought, with the help of government grants worth 34.5 million, 982 environmentally friendly vehicles.

The ministry said Croatia was the first country in the world to abolish the use of halogenated chlorofluorocarbons, which damage the ozone layer the most, and that it was among the first EU member countries to complete its low-carbon development strategy for the period until 2030 with an outlook until 2050. The staregy is expected to enable economic development based on green jobs.

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