Al Gore mentored me on my way to becoming a climate change expert.
Marija Pujo Tadić specialized through practice because there is no specialization for climate change experts in Croatia. She says she left her position as a judge without thinking and obtained much-needed knowledge for her future specialization through the Environmental Protection Fund. At the same time, she worked on education, constantly improving herself. Former US Vice President Al Gore served as the mentor.
“Education took place in Istanbul within the framework of The Climate Reality Project, whose founder is Al Gore, where we had full-day lectures for two weeks and had the fortune and honor of personally meeting and attending Al Gore’s lectures. I made many contacts there because from every country on the planet, there was one candidate present. However, the priceless value of the knowledge we gained was also reflected in the fact that we were awarded with the title of climate leader, as well as the right and opportunity to use all of Al Gore’s presentations, which we could adapt to our needs “Marija Pujo Tadić reflected on pivotal moments in his career.
“Previous economic models must be abandoned as soon as possible in order to transition to a low-carbon, sustainable economy. ESG criteria are a tool that will help businesses and the financial sector transition more quickly. Those who do not understand this in a timely manner and do not adapt will be unable to function in the market “, according to Marija Pujo Tadić, an international expert in climate change law and policy, an international ESG expert, president of the International Institute for Climate Action (IICA), ambassador of the EU Climate Pact, and ambassador and member of the Board of Directors of the International Association for Sustainable Economy (IASE) from London.
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues and all eyes are on the war in Ukraine, we frequently hear that climate change has been pushed to the sidelines; is this true?
Climate change is one of the most urgent challenges of the twenty-first century, and how we deal with its consequences will be largely determined by how we prepare now. Specifically, despite the above evidence, the issue of climate change itself causes controversy because scientists are unable to accurately predict what will happen and the extent of the consequences of global warming. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was common to hear that climate change was the cause of the pandemic’s escalation, and that climate change and its associated consequences, which manifest themselves in various unforeseen diseases and viruses of various forms, are one of the greatest dangers of the twenty-first century.
Climate change is here, it is dangerous and pervasive, and it cannot be avoided because, unfortunately, I agree with the Report of the IPCC – Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – a group of scientists who also presented their report at the negotiations in Glasgow at the COP 26, which clearly shows that global warming has become a constant, and if we do not take measures to reduce emissions as soon as possible, the situation with extreme climate change will worsen. Given the existential problems of the people of Ukraine, we cannot and must not ignore climate change, which poses a serious threat for all of us.
How did you decide to specialize in this field and what obstacles did you face along the way?
I began my career in 1994 in the Ministry of Construction and Environmental Protection, where we worked on the draft of the first Law on Environmental Protection of the Republic of Croatia during that extremely difficult post-war period, so that later in my position as a judge, the knowledge and experience I gained from the Ministry of Environmental Protection helped a lot when the first disputes arose, and they concerned environmental pollution. Because environmental protection is considered a specially protected good, the regulations provide for extremely high fines for environmental violations, in the hundreds of thousands, and even up to a million kuna.
After a multi-year career as a judge, I moved to the Environmental Protection Fund and began my specialization there, combining my two passions: law and environmental protection.
You are the only expert in the Republic of Croatia who has linked these two topics, as well as climate change and politics. You are a climate change lecturer at the World Summit in China, as well as the co-founder and president of the International Institute for Climate Action (IICA). What inspired you to establish such an institute, and what are its current goals and activities?
The International Institute for Climate Action (IICA) was founded in 2012 as an expert association to promote climate change mitigation and adaptation, as well as air and ozone layer protection. One of the Institute’s top priorities is to encourage environmental protection and sustainable development, as well as to engage the entire community in innovative projects with high added value for people, the economy, and the environment. One of the Institute’s top priorities is to promote environmental protection and sustainable development, as well as to involve the entire community in innovative projects that benefit people, the economy, and the environment. In this regard, we held a series of lectures and took part in a number of projects both in Croatia and abroad. Among the most recent was a collaboration with the European Commission and HUP at the Conference on ESG, a new tool for the transition to a sustainable economy called With ESG criteria to a sustainable economy, which was attended by all of the most important stakeholders, from policymakers to regulators, as well as companies and the financial sector. The Institute’s experts are always happy to participate in lectures and use their professional knowledge to help many people keep up with the EU. For the larger social community, and what the Institute will focus on in the future, it is critical to encourage the business community to apply and implement measures in the field of climate change adaptation, as well as CO2 emissions reduction and the adoption of new ESG criteria. There is a lot of work ahead of us here, because first and foremost, the business community needs to be informed about their obligations in terms of climate change adaptation.
What exactly is ESG and what does it bring with the new regulatory framework?
If we were to define it simply, we could say that ESG, in addition to financial, takes into account environmental, social and management factors when making economic decisions. In practice, this means that important decisions in today’s world are no longer solely based on financial factors, but also take into account other types of factors related to our natural and social environments. According to EU regulations, all issuers who are also required to prepare non-financial reports will have to start with announcements for the first two environmental goals – mitigation of climate change and adaptation to climate change – beginning in 2022, and will be required to publish data for a total of six environmental goals beginning in 2023. (sustainable use and protection of water and marine resources, circular economy, pollution prevention and healthy ecosystem). The proposal for a new EU directive (CSRD) of the Directive calls for all large companies to be required to publish an expanded scope of ESG factors beginning in 2024, and small and medium-sized businesses beginning in 2027.
You started the first ESG education program in Croatia about a year ago. What is the appeal and strategic advantage of these educations over other similar ones available?
Already a year ago, our International Institute for Climate Action (IICA) in Zagreb, led by me, presented the first internationally recognized education for ESG experts and certificates in sustainable finance and business under the titles of International Sustainable Finance ISF® and International Sustainable Business ISB®, in collaboration with the International Association for Sustainable Economics (IASE) in London. It is a unique and comprehensive online education for the education and certification of ESG experts, which also includes climate criteria, and more than 100 professors from all over the world participated in the preparation of the curriculum, including three Nobel laureates. This educational curriculum was supported by the most reputable institutions in the world that deal with the creation of policies for sustainable development and climate change, as well as financial and management operations and criteria: UN-FAO, UNFCCC, UNEP (UN Environment Programme), UN-IFAD, UN- Women, Green Climate Fund, World Bank and many others. It is important to note that this is the first comprehensive educational program that covers all criteria, whereas most others are only based on individual ones, which is a significant advantage and value.
You mentioned the European Green Plan, in which Croatia participates as a member of the Union. What opportunities does it offer us, and how can we take advantage of them?
The Green Deal represents an opportunity for the Republic of Croatia to initiate a multimillion-dollar investment cycle as well as its own repositioning and branding in the EU. The energy transition in the context of the EU Green Deal provides the Republic of Croatia with the opportunity to position itself as one of the EU leaders, something it has never done, and to brand itself as 100 percent climate neutral as soon as possible. We are working on sustainable tourism as part of the energy transition, but we are also making large investments in the economy’s so-called smart sectors.
Climate change, temperature fluctuations, and various weather conditions all have an impact on people and agriculture. How to deal with it in the future?
The frequency of temperature oscillations and extreme weather conditions will almost certainly have catastrophic consequences for people, particularly agriculture. Climate change has a variety of effects on society and social processes, the majority of which increase their vulnerability. This means that we must plan ahead of time. This is precisely why the European Union is working quickly on the process of integrating individual EU countries’ economies, the most important climate change documents, such as the Low Carbon Strategy and the Adaptation Strategy, and instruments for the quickest possible transition to a low-carbon sustainable economy, such as the Green Deal and ESG.
What can we expect, for example, in the next decade when it comes to environmental protection? That is, how can each individual contribute to the reduction of global warming?
It is important that the carbon footprint is decreasing, and significant decoupling of the economy from greenhouse gas emissions began around 2002. Croatia must develop while lowering its carbon footprint and reducing its reliance on imported energy, as well as capitalize on opportunities for green economy development to create new jobs, innovative solutions, and economic growth. The Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development, as well as the Fund for the Protection of the Environment and Nature, play important roles in this, as such projects have been successfully funded in the past. Of course, we have funds from EU funds that we need to be able to withdraw and use for the benefit of our entire community, I mean the Republic of Croatia, and thus for the benefit of our entire planet.
What would be your message to our readers, primarily to the business sector?
Climate change and politics are two of my great passions, and as an expert, I want to help new generations of young people live as long as possible in a sustainable economy. As a result, current economic models must be abandoned as soon as possible in order to transition to a low-carbon, sustainable economy. ESG criteria are a tool that will help businesses and the financial sector transition more quickly. Those who fail to recognize this and adapt will no longer be able to function in the market. How quickly they adapt is determined by their initiative, but they are now under legislative pressure as well. They are not, however, alone in this, as our Institute has launched education and conferences in the Republic of Croatia in order to assist them in their transition to a low-carbon, sustainable economy.