Slovakia                                                              By Emil Bedi (FAE, Slovakia)


Basic information





Mt CO2



Mt CO2



2007 %



year  %

Kyoto target



















No target




GDP Growth



GDP Growth



GDP Growth (est.) %

Gross Inland Energy Consumption Change

Feb.2009/ Feb.2008     %







Source: EEA Report No. 5/2007


Greenhouse-gas emissions have been stable during last 10 years despite quite strong economic growth. Nevertheless, the Slovak government expected growth of emissions in the next several years. This view was not shared by the NGOs, as the economic growth does not always need to be accompanied by a rise in emissions. Since 2009 when the economic crisis led to considerable decline of  the industrial production (-25% in first half of 2009), the emissions are likely to decline even in several years to come.



Public attitude towards Climate change


Weather-related extremes are frequently considered by the public as the main climate-change-induced impacts. Actually this is becoming the trend in mainstream media in recent years and the public simply follows this explanation of such events. Unfortunately, there is practically no information presented on the scientific background of climate change (UNFCCC reports), international political negotiations, or even debates that could shed light on the whole climate-change policy issue. Due to the devastating floods and storm (High Tatras) in recent years, it seems that the majority of the public is well aware of the extreme-weather aspect of climate-change impacts.


Resulting economic damages and problems with rising insurance costs are known and have been a hot topic in otherwise lacking discussions on climate change. Having warmer temperatures here in Slovakia is considered by some people to be beneficial due to the potential savings on the ever-increasing costs of heating. Kyoto Protocol is known as the term related to climate change politics but the public is practically unaware of its content except for the fact that the USA did not signed it. The reason of U.S. rejection is not known and it seems that public is not much interested in this. Making sacrifices in exchange for reduction of GHG emissions through higher costs of energy seems to be highly improbable now and even in the near future. Energy prices are steadily increasing. The public and the government are strongly dissatisfied with this trend.


From the economic perspective, the energy-saving measures, with their huge potential, seem to be the most attractive. They can have a strong positive effect on GHG-emission reduction as well as on costs.  In contrast to the widespread lack of knowledge about renewables, the public is aware of the potential of energy conservation, especially in insulation of housing, including old and energy-inefficient multi-story apartment buildings in cities. The lack of funds is the biggest obstacle to the realization of this measure. There have been several hot climate change issues mentioned in Slovak media during 2007-08. One of them was the lack of snow and resultant damage to the tourist industry in some regions (High Tatras). The international news such as the melting of Arctic ice as well as droughts and floods in some regions of the world are considered as other bad news which we cannot influence.


NGOs activities


Slovak environmental NGOs take the climate change only as a side issue.  There are only few people dealing with CC, but practically none of them on a professional day-to-day basis. One or two NGOs are trying at least once a year to organize seminars where lectures are devoted to recent climate change; these are mostly about outcomes of COP meetings or about recently reported scientific evidence of climate change. Unfortunately there are only sporadic contacts between NGOs and politicians taking part presumably during international conferences. It seems that the situation is deteriorating with time and that cooperation was much better 5-10 years ago when vital contacts were stimulated also by the government. In general Slovak NGOs have only a minor chance to influence the domestic climate-change policy.


The IPCC 4th Report on climate change was used only by the FAE as the basic information material for its climate-change activities. Those few NGOs dealing with this issue are fully aware of the potential of renewables and of energy savings as the main tools in combating climate change.


Media coverage of climate change


It seems that journalists are not willing to deal with the climate-change issues except as regards weather-related events or some corruption scandals, e.g., over allocations of quotas in the emission trading system (ETS). The international negotiations are usually mentioned in media during the time of COPs but the deeper look into the debates is always missing. The content of the articles clearly follows the content of international agency news. The only exception, during which the media concentrated on climate change, was the heated debate between the Slovak government and the European Commission over the allocation of permits for ETS. The debate escalated after the government sued the Commission. By the time the dispute was settled, public debate ended. Afterwards it reappeared sporadically whenever large emitters complained about their CO2 caps.


Future post-Kyoto commitments are not considered by the media to be an important topic. The debate on EU burden-sharing is missing entirely. It seems clear that journalists do not consider climate-change negotiations to be very important. Their education in this area could help definitively. Nevertheless, the big question is, how many of them would be interested when there are more interesting domestic and international political issues?


Adaptation to climate change is an unknown phrase in Slovak media as of yet.  Even the most comprehensive sources of information, like the governmental site (ministry of environment), do not deal with it. Non-technical information that would be absorbed easily by the public is missing and the only sources of such information are NGO web pages (Greenpeace and FAE).


The IPCC 4th Report was mentioned very briefly by the media a the time of its publishing. Since then the references to this document have disappeared completely from Slovak media.


Policies and Measures


Unfortunately, there is no public discussion of post-2012 targets. The government did not present it as a topic. There have been brief reports that Slovakia will support the idea of strong economic growth for which higher emission allowances of GHG are thought to be necessary in the future. In general, the Slovak government follows the position of Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland, which is somehow harmonized in the framework of V-4 (Visegrad Four).


The NGOs are on the side of stronger emission cuts than the governmental proposals but it is evident by now that there will be almost no support for this stand from media or the public.


Emission trading system (ETS)


      Since Slovakia sued the European Commission and several industries benefited from over-allocation of CO2 permits within the framework of the ETS, climate-change politics have become an interesting business. Unfortunately ETS is still considered by the industry as the potential way of profit-making and not as an opportunity to change how energy is used. It has been mentioned by the leading Slovak newspaper Sme (July 28, 2008)  that the profit arising from over-allocated quotas for even one pulp-mill company was more than 28 mil. EUR (at the price of 20EUR/ton CO2). Sme also reported that there are 5 other companies who received more than 200.000 tons of over-allocated quotas and that at least one of them, a coal company, received almost 100% more quotas than they would need according to their CO2 emissions in previous years. The company argued that the profit will be used for environmental purposes.


      According to Slovak NGOs the whole ETS as it is designed now is a complete failure. Furthermore the ETS is considered to be too complicated.  Rising corruption and non-transparency seem to be its weakest points. Thus, only full auctioning with tough national caps can effectively lead to the reduction of GHG emissions. Introducing this tough system seems to be hardly possible in Slovakia as well as in other central and eastern European countries. Slovak NGOs believe that all of these problems can be overcome by completely abandoning the ETS and by replacing it with a system of carbon/energy taxation. In contrast to the ETS, such a tax could cover all GHG emissions. The tax on the level of a few percentage points of the energy price (fossil fuels) could create huge revenues. And if these revenues could be allocated completely to renewables and to energy-saving measures, then we could see the real turnover to a sustainable energy future. The results of ETS do not support this change at all.


Future targets

      The EU proposal to reduce GHG emissions to 20 or 30 per cent below 1990 levels for the period beyond 2012 does not seem to be too aggressive for Slovakia, as there was 33% reduction achieved already in 2005. The government can easily push for this target with not much to do domestically.


      Renewables and energy savings are frequently mentioned as the means of GHG reduction, but effective governmental tools (support) are missing and the potential is still unused. Informing the public about the roles of renewables and energy savings in this time of climate change is lacking as well. Slovakia has the feed-in tariffs in place, which are quite interesting for some renewables (0,15 EUR/kWh for biogas electricity), and beginning just this year, they are also guaranteed for several years (12 years for new installations). The lack of long-term guarantees hindered the investments in this area. Support for energy savings is a bit complicated. Recently offered state or local subsidies even for most acute purposes (insulation of buildings) are simply not able to cover the needs. Actually the biggest chance for development of renewables and energy savings in next years come from the structural and cohesion funds available for public entities and even for private companies. Up to 95% of investment cost for public projects in the least developed Slovak regions can be covered from EU funds.


      The main progress in energy savings was achieved by the collapse of old socialist and ineffective heavy industries and their replacement in recent years by modern technologies. Renewables are still waiting for their development. The chances are good that the potential of RE will be realized, but lack of investment, of skills and even of information creates barriers. The only sector in which moderate development is visible by now is in biomass heating (replacement of expensive natural gas and of some old coal-fuelled heating plants). Especially on the individual level, people are cutting themselves free from district heating systems (natural gas) and are buying biomass burners. The price of biomass heat, even without state support, is half the price of natural-gas heat. This development has meant that some centralised heating systems are now struggling for survival. Unfortunately, the replacement of natural gas by biomass, which could help these facilities, is not considered.


Revival of Coal and Nuclear Industries


      There are two proposals for new coal power plants to be built in the eastern part of Slovakia (Trebisov and Strazske) that are pushed strongly by private investors. However, their fate is unclear, as there was strong public opposition to these projects. “Clean” coal-burning as the way forward is not mentioned, nor is carbon capture and storage.


      Nuclear power is considered by the government as the most important future energy source but climate change is not used as the argument for their construction. The main reason given for completion of two reactors (440 MW each) in Mochovce is energy security (independence from imports of electricity). As the Slovak government owns only 34% shares in the power utility (SE) that owns the partly constructed units 3 and 4 of the nuclear power plant Mochovce, there is only a small chance for the government to influence the final decision of Enel (majority owner of SE) to complete the units.