Effects of climate change at global level can be counteracted through “significant” efforts made and through an approach not just at international, but also at “local-national” level, German Ambassador in Bucharest Cord Meier-Klodt on Thursday told a conference on this topic organized in Bucharest.
Cord Meier-Klodt emphasised that the event seeks to intensify the Romanian-German exchange of experience in what concerns concrete measures to transpose the COP21 Paris Agreement on global warming and to attain the objectives of the Action Plan on Climate Change.
“Alongside the Environ Association (a collective non-governmental organisation that institutes in Romania the European principle of the manufacturer’s expanded responsibility in the electric and electronic waste domain, editor’s note), we tackled these climate problems,” the German ambassador stated at the start of the conference on climate changes and climate protection, especially at local level, an event organized by the German Embassy in Bucharest and the Environ Association.
He reminded that “in Germany we have a new Government, one that dedicates ample space to climate protection in the Coalition Treaty,” pointing out that new Environment Minister Svenja Schulze “comes from the most populous federal state – North Rhine-Wesphalia –, where she was Minister for Innovation and Research, hence a strong minister.”
Cord Meier-Klodt stated that climate change and the limitations associated with this phenomenon are the biggest challenges of our times and greater efforts to counter them are needed in the future too, a full approach, an ample approach, not just at international level but also at a local, national level.
“Climate changes, limitations associated to this phenomenon have to do with the biggest challenges of our times. Significant efforts are necessary in the future too, in order to be able to counteract such effects. We will need to have a full approach, ample, not just at international level, but also at national-local level. The international attempts to mitigate effects of climate changes represent very important milestones. However, it is essential, in my opinion, to have a national approach, first of all, and to implement such global objectives at national level,” specified Meier-Klodt, in the opening of the conference.
He also added that in approaching this issue there is the need for closer collaboration, “especially at the local authorities’ level, in our cities and rural towns, but also of personal involvement.”
The German diplomat specified that the purpose of this conference is to transmit “good practices” at rural town level, by presenting projects both in Romania and in Germany, related to waste management, recycling, innovating mobility concepts, while mentioning that the debate will be dedicated also to some financing opportunities in the field, especially involving the European Investment Bank (EIB).
“I am glad that we have among us representatives of the local authorities in Germany, who implemented very modern environment protection projects, which are part of a Master Plan of the Federal Ministry of Environment, and it’s called Master Plan 100, which supports the local authorities in implementing climate change objectives. And I believe that we are also going to debate at this conference if such projects can be transposed and replicated here, in Romania,” underscored the German Ambassador.
The symposium programme also included presentations about the risks and challenges caused by climate change at global level, and in Romania, relevant aspects in implementing the national strategies related to global warming in Germany and Romania, and also a series of debates regarding climate protection via a municipal master plan. Moreover, the EIB representatives will present financing possibilities for local green projects, in order to mitigate CO2 emissions in Romania and Germany.
In what concerns Romanian-German collaboration to implement the measures, the German ambassador pointed out that the COP21 and COP23 international negotiations on limiting climate change are landmarks, however the national approach and the national implementation of these global objectives is essential.
Meier-Klodt also stated that he also wants “close collaboration at the level of local government too, but also with personal involvement,” giving as an example what each of us can do for the environment: “I recall what my wife reminds me every morning after I put the toothpaste: to turn the water off because I don’t need it. I believe it’s something we can implement being aware of the importance of environment protection in our life.”
The ambassador explained what the most important topics of the Conference are, a Conference in which projects from both Romania and Germany will be presented, projects on waste management, recycling and innovative mobility concepts, and stated that he is impressed that “in Romania too there are many mobility concepts in the research and implementation stages. It’s a high-tech model that impressed me very much in Romania.”
Participating in the event were also Deputy PM Gratiela Gavrilescu, Minister of Environment, representatives of the Association of Romanian Municipalities, and famous researchers in climate change fields and representatives of local authorities from Germany.
Environment Minister announces launch of project to boost production of renewable resources
“We are not far from the Paris Agreement to which Romania, as a member state, also said yes. We must be able to explain to every citizen, at the level of local and central government, that each thing we do should be in line with the economy and the system,” the Environment Minister said.
She mentioned the speeches given at COP23 last year, which referred to inter-state collaboration to lower carbon emissions. “The fact that we must unite to lower carbon emissions, but to lower them uniformly, was discussed at COP23. We do for naught programmes and projects here or in Germany if the same thing is not being done all over the globe,” Gavrilescu stated.
She claimed that she plans to start projects that would have an impact on the population, after the Fund for Environment was approved on February 15.
“Last week we renewed the national auto fleet, both through the Classic Cash-for-Clunkers and Cash-for-Clunkers Plus. Romania is offering one of the highest green-bonuses in the European Union – EUR 10,000, and this year we want to have more than 2,000 electric cars in Romania,” the minister stated.
Gavrilescu said that the project that seeks to boost the production of renewable resources and that will be launched in the upcoming weeks is meant for local government authorities, so as to be able to attract funds. “We very much want the growth of the production of renewable energy. We will launch a project with which we would boost renewable resources. We must carry out the conscious education of the population, in the sense of protecting these natural resources, on how we must take care of renewable resources, what happens with the waste that pollutes, what happens with the emissions, other than carbon emissions, everything that large industry, that large polluters mean,” she added.
Association of Romanian Municipalities can become the engine for a greener Romania, for the lowering of carbon emissions
At the same conference, Buzau Mayor Constantin Toma, member of the Association of Romanian Municipalities, stated that, after reading the book ‘If Mayors Ruled the World,’ he wondered what he could copy from it and noticed that Romanian mayors lack too many prerogatives. He said that after paying a visit to Estonia he was “shocked” by digitalisation and would like a greener Romania but does not know what he could do to lower carbon emissions, and asked the advice of the German specialists present in Bucharest at the Conference on climate change and climate protection.
According to the mayor, the Association of Romanian Municipalities represents 109 municipalities, including the 6 districts of Bucharest, over 70 percent of Romania’s GDP, and “can become the engine for a greener Romania, for the lowering of carbon emissions.”
Constantin Toma started his speech by revealing one of the books he has recently read: “Relatively recently, I read a book: “If Mayors Ruled the World.” I read this book with great curiosity. It included the experiences of 17 mayors from all over the world, including Germany, and being at my first stint – I’ve been a mayor for one year and nine months –, I wondered what I can copy [from it] and I noticed I can copy very many things. I noticed that those mayors have extraordinarily large prerogatives. Unfortunately, in Romania, at this moment the prerogatives of some mayors are very limited: if you don’t want to do anything, you don’t do anything, if you want to do something, you break the law.”
Mayors must have more prerogatives, Constantin Toma said, addressing Minister Gratiela Gavrilescu. “Regardless of what measure were to be taken in the Capital, the mayors of the 109 Romanian municipalities can be the main engine (…) because a law, a Government decision is issued for naught, because you can miss that great news in a Romanian style too: I mean one states one is doing something and does very little. We must be given more prerogatives, Minister.”
Toma went on to say: “Now, let’s return to Earth: I’m making a green city in Buzau and I noticed that, after that environment tax was lifted at the end of 2017, from 41,000 cars we reached 58,000 cars. 17,000 cars, most of them second-hand cars. The Romanian loves the German car very much, it can be a photo too. What can you do? We have no parking spots. I can’t ban the purchase of cars. As a new mayor, what can I do in this situation? 200 cars were being registered almost every day, from Germany, it’s true, but those pollute too, because they are 7-8 or 15 years old,” the Mayor said, according to news.ro.
Constantin Toma also talked about the visits he paid to Estonia and Netherlands, via the Association of Romanian Municipalities. “There are multiple debates, we invite ministers, we pay visits throughout the world; two weeks ago, I paid a visit to Estonia and the Netherlands. We came back shocked by what digitalisation means in Estonia, and a former Soviet Union country shows that if it has vision and action… because vision without action is frustration, and action without vision means chaos. Unfortunately, after 1990, in Romania we lacked vision and action and we’re yet to find the answer,” he said.