Climate change policy in the Republic of Croatia


Working lunch at the ambassador’s residence in the Kingdom of Sweden

On February 5: Her Excellency Mrs. Diana Helen Madunic, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Sweden to the Republic of Croatia, hosted a working lunch at her residence, inviting three of her fellow ambassadors. The discussion focused on Climate Change Policy in the Republic of Croatia.

H.E. Mrs. Maria Paula Vieira Lael da Silva, Ambassador of the Portuguese Republic to the Republic of Croatia, and H.E. Mr. Andrew Stuart Dalgleish, Ambassador of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to the Republic of Croatia, took part in the ceremony.

First Counselor Yannick Andrianarahinjaka is the Republic of France’s Deputy Ambassador.

Erik Ehrner, First Secretary and Deputy Ambassador of Sweden

Mrs. Marija Pujo Tadić (MPT), president of the International Institute for Climate Action (IICA) and associate member of HDK, responded to H.E. Mrs. Diane Helen Madunic’s (DHM) questions.

DHM: Sweden is a member of the EU and has long worked on climate change and policy issues. In Sweden, for example, we plan to achieve carbon neutrality by 2045. What is the state of the economy, security, and politics in Croatia in terms of climate change?

MPT: I am pleasantly surprised that the Kingdom of Sweden has set such a lofty and ambitious goal, given that the EU wants to become a carbon-neutral continent by 2050. Given the rapid adoption of climate policies and measures, I am confident that Sweden will succeed and do it. The Republic of Croatia is working hard on climate change policies, and I hope that we will be able to help the EU achieve its goal.

We must keep in mind that the Republic of Croatia is extremely vulnerable to climate change due to its geographical and climatological characteristics, which are already having a significant impact on Croatian society and economy. There are several types of this influence, and they can be divided into three categories: economic, social, and security. All three species are related to one another. To mitigate the negative effects of climate change on the economy of the Republic of Croatia, and in accordance with EU legislation, we diligently and devotedly approached the development of the Republic of Croatia’s Low Carbon Strategy.

As part of its commitment to the EU, the UNFCCC, and the Paris Agreement, Croatia committed to developing a low-carbon development strategy for the period up to 2030, with a view to 2050, based on the Air Protection Act. The low-carbon strategy includes scenarios until 2030 and 2050, modeling by sector, a five-year action plan, and an assessment of the impact of the scenarios on the environment, society, and economy. The Republic of Croatia’s low-carbon strategy sought to identify the sectors that contribute the most to climate change and propose mitigation measures in these areas. Tourism, energy, industry, transportation, households and services, agriculture, waste management, land use, and forestry are the most important.

  • As you are aware, the Low Carbon Strategy does not predict what will happen; rather, it determines what we want to achieve in the future and how to get there. I am convinced that the Republic of Croatia can achieve economic growth by moving toward low-carbon development, first by adopting and then consistently implementing the Low-Carbon Strategy, which opens up opportunities to encourage:
  • investment cycle,
  • growth of industrial production,
  • development of new activities,
  • economic competitiveness,
  • job creation with a long-term perspective.

Climate change is having the most visible impact in the Republic of Croatia, specifically in agriculture and tourism, which are the backbones of the Croatian economy.

Furthermore, strategies for incorporating climate change adaptation into sectoral development plans and strategic documents are being developed. Climate change adaptation affects both public and private stakeholders. Private sector stakeholders are also important in climate change adaptation. Because climate change affects almost every economic sector, some private companies will have to adapt to changing environmental conditions as well. New business models should be planned with future climate impacts in mind, as well as being sufficiently adaptable to change.

Of course, I must mention that the Republic of Croatia passed its first Law on Climate Change and Ozone Layer Protection in January 2020, putting us ahead of other EU members in this regard.

I must emphasize that, as an expert in that field and a lawyer by profession, I participated in the drafting of that law through the committees of our Ministry of Environmental Protection and Energy, which I am extremely proud of because it capped my long career in this field, as well as being extremely proud of my team from the Ministry of Environmental Protection (now the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development) who did a “lion’s worth” of work during the Croatian presidency of the Council of the EU, because now that Portugal is holding the presidency, they can also testify to us how demanding a job it is.

Don’t forget that we were the first country to have to switch to new and never-before-used measures of conducting meetings via zoom calls due to the pandemic, but we did it so quickly and so well that all countries congratulated us.

But that only demonstrates the type of people we are; we may appear to be slow to adapt to changes, but when a critical moment arrives, we “harness” all our strengths and produce impressive results in a short time, while we are very ethical and compassionate, as evidenced by the help that we all organized together for earthquake victims in Petrinja, Glina, and Sisak, but also in Zagreb.

DHM: What, in your opinion, are the Republic of Croatia’s strengths and weaknesses in comparison to other countries, and in relation to climate change?


MPT: The Republic of Croatia clearly has advantages over other countries in the following areas:

  • natural resources (potential for the use of renewable energy sources, particularly hydropower)
  • geostrategic position (energy transit routes, good connections with neighboring countries),
  • built infrastructure (power and gas infrastructure),
  • share of renewable energy sources (high share of HPP in electricity production),
  • knowledge of domestic science and economy in the development of new technological solutions in all energy activities, as well as the development of new products in the electrical industry.

There are certain weaknesses that we must focus on and try to eliminate, namely:

  • education, information, and awareness (education system not adapted to the market, relatively undeveloped awareness of the need for rational energy use and the use of energy sources with a low CO2 share, and also what has become extremely important for the economy’s progress in the last few years, namely:
  • introducing the ESG system in company management and
  • ESG (Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance) – Environmental, social, and corporate governance are three important factors for determining the long-term and social impact of investments in a company and its people. These criteria aid in predicting the company’s future financial results.

DHM: How do you see the situation in your most vulnerable industry, tourism, in the context of climate change?

MPT: Tourism is the most important industry in Croatia, both in terms of employment and income generation. Climate change, in addition to rising temperatures, brings weather extremes, to which Croatian tourism, which is heavily reliant on beach activities and pleasant weather, is particularly vulnerable. If the temperature rises, the number and overall arrival of tourists will undoubtedly decrease. It should also be noted that much of the tourist infrastructure is located on the coast, making it vulnerable to rising sea levels and related floods, as we have already seen. Increasing temperatures can cause changes in ecosystems in inland tourist destinations such as national parks.

DHM: In general, what are the penalties for noncompliance, and what are the economic and legal aspects of default?

MPT: As you may be aware, the Republic of Croatia is also a signatory to the Paris Agreement, which was ratified by the Croatian Parliament on March 17, 2017. I can’t talk about specific “penalties” because there aren’t any for states, but condemnation from the global community can be a massive and priceless “penalty” at times. As well as economic stagnation if we do not transition to new ways of doing business as soon as possible – by which I mean incorporating environmental protection policies, climate change, and sustainable development into all segments of society and all sectors.

DHM: In your opinion, what steps are needed in the economy and specific sectors in Croatia in the coming period to mitigate the negative impact of climate change – how can economic sectors contribute?

MPT: It is true that climate change is already having a significant impact on Croatian society and economy, and it is critical to treat all future projects and investments in an appropriate manner in order to reduce the impact of climate change (reduce greenhouse gas emissions), adapt to climate change, and minimize vulnerability and risks.

Decarbonization also entails significant costs, which may have a significant impact on Croatia’s already low competitiveness. However, I believe that the Republic of Croatia should do the following immediately:

  1. primarily branding Croatia as an environmentally conscious country;
  2. subsequent use of EU funds;
  3. information, education, and consciousness change (consumer education, education for sustainable energy consumption, lifestyle change, knowledge to use potential);
  4. inclusion of domestic science in the development of new technological solutions for the exploitation of all Croatian energy resources;
  5. establishment of a favorable legislative and regulatory framework for attracting investments in new capacities in the market economy; and, last but not least,
  6. implementation of the previously mentioned ESG system (Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance) – Environmental management, social, and corporate management) in business management, as well as in public administration.

DHM: Dear Ms. Pujo-Tadić, we thank you for this extremely informative conversation in which you provided us with an overview of what the Republic of Croatia is doing in terms of climate change and policies. Thank you for sharing your valuable knowledge with us once more.

MPT: Thank you for the invitation and for any further questions I am available to you and your colleagues from the UK, French and Portuguese embassies, as well as other fellow ambassadors in the Republic of Croatia.

Marija Pujo Tadić