Is European Union a motor in the climate change action?

Environmental problems do not respect national boundaries. They transcend them. Therefore, multinational/supranational way of tackling these issue is very important and effective. The very first interest of the European Community was the economic development and expansion of a single market. However, with the growing salience of environmental issues the European Community began to focus on environmental management as a central basis of economic and social development. Clearly, the EU’s policy orientation has deepened as well as broadened. The area of environmental policy is one of the sectoral policies of the EU and it is an umbrella policy for several dimensions, such as climate change, water protection, sustainable consumption or biodiversity. It is important to emphasize that Union elaborates multiannual environmental action programs that establish actions to be taken in all areas of environmental policy. We can speak about general principles and essential framework of the environmental policy.

The Paris Agreement

Concerning the climate change the phenomenon of climate change is a transboundary issue. It needs a mutual concern of developing and developed countries as well as their mutual commitment to its mitigation. At the 21st COP, known as Paris Climate Conference, countries aimed to achieve a first universal legally binding document that would oblige countries to hold on to these commitments. The outcome of the 2015 UN climate negotiations is an inclusive, binding treaty that got ahead of the Kyoto Protocol. It builds upon UNFCCC and more than two decades of international negotiations. Paris Agreement entered force in November 2016 with necessary 55 countries accountable for 55% of greenhouse gas emissions.

The Agreement sets out a provision which implements the principle of common but differentiates responsibilities and respective capabilities of the Parties.

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EU’s capabilities with the respect to the Paris Conference

The EU was very active with respect to the negotiations. It played a key role in bringing the developed and developing countries to the conference and address the climate change issues. The EU has particularly approached small islands and least developed countries to build a large coalition and bridges between parties and even provided them with help regarding the development of their INDCs (Intended Nationally Determined Contribution of GHG emissions). This is believed by the EU itself to be a crucial point in shifting the dynamics of the COP 21 negotiations.

Conclusion

The most important priority for the EU toward Paris conference was the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions and securing relative transparency with respect to the fulfilment of provisions. But is it enough commitment by the EU to tackle the issue of climate change? The EU’s objective was to conclude a treaty that would be binding for all countries. Secondly, this treaty was to include provisions on ‘fair, ambitious and quantifiable mitigation commitments by all parties. In this respect, it advocated for at least 40% GHG emission reduction by 2030. Thirdly, the limitation of global temperature increase to well below 2° above pre-industrial levels was by some countries seen as not sufficient for climate change sustainment and so the EU demanded the Agreement to incorporate a review mechanism with a further temperature limitation possible every five years. After all we can say that the EU’s goals were the most determined compared to other players, but the EU alone can not promise the moon without the cooperation of the worlds polluters that happens to be a biggest issue of today.

K. Homolová, FMV

 

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Food Security in Slovak Republic

hydina-SR
Buy Slovak; Source: Rolnicke noviny

Food security is a basic human right and will be ensured when all people will have a constant physical and economic attitude towards adequate, healthy and nutritious food as well as to satisfy their nutritional needs and food preferences in favour of an active and healthy life.

Three pillars of food security:

  • Food availability – level and stability of food production, storage, distribution and processing
  • Access to food – the level of revenue and the proper functioning of the food market
  • Food use – nutritional quality of food as well as food safety

Food self-sufficiency in the country is the ability to ensure that the needs of the domestic market are met by its own production potential. The degree of food self-sufficiency is one of the most important indicators that reflect the overall economy and the social level of the country. The fact is that Slovakia’s food self-sufficiency is steadily declining.

As a member of The European Union. Slovakia participate in the food safety policy, which aims to ensure that EU citizens enjoy safe and nutritious food produced from healthy plants and animals.

European Union policy safeguards every part of the food production process from farming to consumption — by preventing food contamination and promoting food hygiene, food information, plant health and animal health and welfare.

One of the important political decision is to define an acceptable degree of dependence on the country from food imports from abroad. At the same time, self-sufficiency in food is regularly monitored. Appropriately chosen levels of food safety and self-sufficiency must provide citizens with enough basic food even during times of crisis on the world markets to preserve the elements of landscaping and the use of national natural wealth to maintain employment opportunities.

Case of Slovak Republic

There is no country that is totally self-sufficient in all kinds of food. Slovakia, however, is one of those countries that still can produce basic types of food. Nevertheless, more and more food from other countries is being imported into Slovak market. Even those Slovakia can produce at home. They displace the domestic food from the market, liquidate the domestic producer and the country’s production potential. Slovakia is one of the worst rated countries in Europe in terms of food security. According to the Global Food Security Index 2017, which was released by The Economist’s analytical unit, Slovakia finished globally at 34th place out of 113. Among the states of the European Union, only Romania (38th), Bulgaria (47th) ended in lower positions. Year-on-year, the Slovak Republic has gone down one bar. Although as the title of the ranking suggests, the ranking of countries does not exclusively reflect food safety from a qualitative point of view – it is just one of three main criteria. Other are affordability and availability of food. The goal of the ladder is to find out which countries are the most vulnerable and least vulnerable in the context of food.

Slovakia’s position in the overall ranking was reduced by several factors, such as state spending on agricultural research and development (44th), agricultural infrastructure (51st), road infrastructure (52nd) and the quality of the proteins (48th) in the food received, but, on the other hand, in the case of natural resources and resilience indicator Slovakia ranked 2nd, behind Denmark.

On the question of security control, on the contrary, Slovakia was above average in several indicators. For example, the country has received a full range of points for food safety, access to drinking water and the state of the food chain.

The rankings also evaluated the level of political stability, corruption rates, the democracy index, and other factors that may also affect the issue of food security. From the surrounding countries, the Czech Republic finished 23rd, Poland and Hungary were 27th and 30th, Austria 6th .

So, what we should do to increase food self-sufficiency in Slovakia?… Firstly, start from yourself and contribute to increasing food self-sufficiency and security in Slovakia. Secondly, rethink your eating habits and think about the origin of the food you buy and consume, and mostly when purchasing basic foods, prefer Slovak food as well as be interested in the events in Slovak agriculture and food industry.

 

Barbora P.

Why does the Slovak food production disappear from the shops?

With almost iron regularity, information about the decreasing share of Slovak food production in our stores appears in the media. Side by side, one question comes into sight. “Who is to blame?”. We can meet with one predominating opinion which is passing around in the public. The culprit for this situation is none other than business chains, especially those “foreign”. It is strange that we still distinguish foreign and domestic traders, whereas we are ignoring the fact that many producers of traditional Slovak products have been for many years in the hands of foreign owners and we call them “our” food producers.

The claim that merchants are the decision-maker to decide what appears on the store shelves is, of course, a myth. It is totally unthinkable that retailers would refuse to offer goods that their customers are interested in. In reality, the opposite is true, so if customers will prefer certain product, traders will do their best to offer them. It’s a simple equation that if the retailer will not follow, he does not succeed in a hard competition, and customer will spend his money in some other place.

 

“It is totally unthinkable that retailers would refuse to offer goods

that their customers are interested in.”

 

It is also questionable that how essential is the criterion of the origin of food for customers in Slovakia. Of course, if a journalist comes across the street and ask people if they are buying Slovak products, only few of asked will respond negatively. In the other hand, if you ask them indirectly the results can be surprising. For example in the case of question where are people shopping most often and according to which criteria they decide, only few of them will think about the origin of the products.

Important positions hold regularly criteria such as the quality, freshness, price acceptability, whereas we would expect that the origin of the food, given the frequency of this topic in the media, will be high among customer criteria.

And also the future of Slovak companies depends heavily on us – consumers. Something is not correct if we import products of lower quality from the foreign countries and we send there really top products. Once, when you will think about the situation in your neighbourhood, try to think about how you can change it. One of the ways how you can achieve this is by purchasing products from your local maker because this is how you support a team of people who work there, and you can be sure that what you buy is really among the best we have at home.

And so we come to a simple conclusion, which very well describes the following saying: Our customer, our master. If people started preferring Slovak production, the chains would not have a choice.

Veronika V.

What a lycra does?

Subfamily insects are insects living under the bark of trees that feed on their lyric conductive tissue through the nutrient created by assimilation from the tree down to the stem and roots. The lilac layer is thin, so the corridors formed by the lycragrass and its larvae are completely interrupted. If a tree is attacked by a large number of beetles, its physiological processes will be completely destroyed. The tree is unable to nourish some of its organs and dies. The wood that leads the water from the roots upwards remains undamaged, so the tree temporarily grows like a flower in the weight – it has water, so it does not dry immediately, but it gradually grows and dies. Thanks to this mechanism of “tree killing”, the attack occurs with a certain delay. Most species accelerate tree dying even by transferring various pathogenic fungi that clog the tree vessels. Lycra spruce belongs in this respect among the “worst” species.

Guardians like to point out that undercover insects are a normal part of forest ecosystems, and are basically right. Under normal circumstances, these insects are poured onto dead or freshly dead trees, barking through the slices, ejecting the mating chambers in which the mating takes place, then the females excavate the maternal hallways with the slits and lay one egg in each of them. The larvae, then, the lycra, make their corridors, at the end of which they swarm. Upon completion of the conversion, the young beetles are still studded with lynx in the lyre and are traversed out, leaving troughs in the bark. The underbelly bark of the attacked trees then easily falls off, which accelerates the decomposition of the wood. Viable trees are normally able to withstand a smaller intensity attack using resin.

If the lycra finds enough dying or weakened trees, after wind calamity or extreme drought, he can attack them “without losing their lives” and multiply their number in a short time. Then, in the absence of light food, even healthy trees attack and, even with losses, thanks to the number of victories. After starting such an epidemic, it is able to multiply with a geometric line and kill each and every higher and higher number of trees. Under favorable conditions, it is also possible to dispose of incredibly large areas of adult forest stands.

 

Each species specializes in one or several tree species, but we sometimes see a surprising “rule violation”. The spruce is attacked by several very dangerous species, of which the “worst” is spruce lizard. This species is also able to “attack” the language, which suggests a rather gloomy future for this wood.

Are calamity overgrowth of lycopersy natural?

It probably depends on how we define the term natural. Whether it is a calamitous overproduction of a species depends on the whole complex of conditions: the starting population of the sub-insect, the sufficiency of appropriate food (the composition of the woody forests, the occurrence of trees that weaken the resistance of the trees), the weather (temperatures suitable for lycophytes, ), intracellular competition in the lycoprush population, and parasites and predators that feed on lycopersy. If we declare any of these factors influenced by humans, we may consider the behavior of the lycopersy as unnatural.

 

JOlespremnoženie lykožrút larvy smrekový Tatranský národný park hory lesné hospodárstvo životné prostredie

Trump VS Paris Agreement 2015

First of all, it’s worth mentioning, that Trump’s actions shouldn’t have caused such an incredible public response because if we take a look at his presidential campaign of 2016 – it’s obvious:

  • He doesn’t accept the scientific evidence that climate change is real

“The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”

  • He wanted to dismantle the Paris agreement
  • Trump said that clean water may be one of the “most important issue we face as a nation for the next generation”
  • Wanted to keep public lands in the control of the federal government

Even though most of these statements sound provocative and inappropriate in a current environmental “crisis”, in my opinion, he has his own objective point. While the US has to reduce its carbon emissions to 15% in comparison to the basis year (1990), China proclaimed an increase in expansion of emissions until the year of 2030 and only after that it promised a further decline in a trend of ejections. That is seemed to be economically unfair because it will cost the United States billions of dollars in excess of how much financial support it already provides to the Global East and other poor countries.

However, we should not forget about the impact of this withdrawal to the following development of a project itself:

  • As the scientific forecast states – without the US (15% of the world’s emissions) – the prediction for the further global warming will be 3.5-4.0 above the average level instead of 1.5-2.0 which is damaging and critical for the environment.
  • The US example shows other countries that you can easily declare off the agreement due to its economic interest.

So overall, I think, that this decision was made in terms of the unceasing need of Donald Trump to bring economic growth of the States to a higher level. And, in my opinion, it’s too early to judge this decision or think about the consequences of this action because of essential for Trump far-seeing policy. I, personally, share the opinion of V. Putin, who said during one of his panel discussions on SPIEF’18 – This man has amazing tactics. He outlined his target voters during the presidential campaign, and, despite all of the forecast and disputes, made them vote. He has become a President of the United States of America , one of the greatest country in the world. – and that is what makes me believe in consciousness and wisdom of his team.

 

Evgeniya Tsyplakova

Enviromental issues in Russia

Russia is the biggest country and has the most natural resources in the world (oil, gas, timber, metals).  At the same time, it is one of the most polluted areas on our planet.  Environmental problems include deforestation, air and water pollution, soil contamination, etc.

Russian economy depends a lot on oil, gas and metals exports that is why government does not care about ecological consequences of natural resources exploration and prefers getting money without thinking about the future.

I would like to give an example that shows how serious is the environmental issue in Russia now and how unresponsible is our government!

I live in Saint Petersburg that is the second largest Russian city and just near it is located an enormous landfill called “Krasny bor”.  It is one of the largest dump for dangerous industrial waste in Russia and contains about 2 million tons of toxic waste in open air spaces.  The level of those pools has already risen a lot while the snow melts in spring and in some cases the pools even overflowed! Why is it dangerous? Because the toxic waste can reach the underground waters and nearby streams. After that it will mix with rainwater and appear in citizens taps.

Even though government promised to close this landfill and make the operators of Krasny bor to repair waste- storage container, nothing is changing now. The environmental situation in Saint Petersburg is awful; the residents suffer from bad quality water that provokes allergy and other diseases. Last summer I saw an acid rain for the first time in my life. I think it is time to act now and stop to ignore the problem.  The Saint Petersburg authorities always say that the situation is not crucial and ignore any possibility for leakage, but from my point of view it’s a huge ecological time bomb that will explode soon and we won’t be able to deal with its consequences!

To sum up, I should say that there are a lot of environmental issues in Russia and nobody wants to think about it and prevent the contamination. We don’t have any waste recycling systems and we don’t even sort the rubbish. Huge landfills are everywhere that pollute air and water. We cut over and sell our forests just to get profit without thinking about animals that lose their habitat. I am sure that its time to develop environmental laws in order to protect the nature and prevent climate changing!

 

Irina Startseva

Climate change and small farmers

Have you ever thought that climate changes can have a great impact on small farmers? Most of the people think only about global warming, sea level rising, holes in the ozone layer or extreme weather. We do not think that climate changes can immediately influence our everyday life, our neighbours or even our own harvest.

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Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/agriculture/11802703/Theres-a-crisis-a-comin.html

Climate change represents an unprecedented challenge to agricultural production not only in the developing countries. It has already started to affect small farmers all around the world. Small farmers are suffering because of extreme weather and generally all climate changes around the world. The extreme vulnerability of small farmers to agricultural risks is important as well as the vulnerability of big agriculture corporations.

Agriculture business is always risky for small farmers and especially for small farmers in developing countries. Weather changes cause droughts, flood or tropical storms and become more and more unpredictable. Speed and intensity of climate changes are as well as unpredictable. Agriculture is very high dependent on the weather. Can you imagine that you will have the abundant harvest without enough sun or rain?

Farms with less than five acres represent about 70 percent of global food production. Small farmers produce the most of world´s food and at the same time are at the greatest risk of losing crops because of the environment changes. The consequences are more harmful in some countries than in others. Even without any climate changes are African small farmers more vulnerable than farmers in developed countries. Farmers in developing countries do not have access to the best seed varieties including heat- and drought-tolerant types, crop insurance, and precision agriculture technologies. European and American farmers in contrast with African farmers, import fertilizers, pesticides, seeds, seasonal workers and equipment from all over the world. Farmers in developed countries have another big advantage, they have access to new varieties of plants which are more resistant to weather changes.

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Source: http://modernfarmer.com/2013/07/qa-with-james-beard-leadership-award-winner-hal-hamilton/

Crop failures and livestock deaths are causing economic losses, raising food prices and undermining food security. How can we fight with these losses and consequences of climate changes? Small farmers need technologies and finances, which can help improve production and reduce climate risks. One of the solutions can be farming associations. These associations put villagers into groups and create small farming collectives. They can have better access to some new practices and technologies; they can experiment with new agricultural techniques. With enough research and technology resources, small farmers can continue to grow enough food.

Most of the countries suffer the consequences of climate change, characterized by reduction and increased variability in rainfall and an increase in temperatures. They do not have access to short-term and long-term weather information, so they are not able to effectively plan the next cropping seasons. These farmers are not fully empowered to make informed decisions about strategies that could affect their vulnerability to climate change in the future. Local communities in low-income countries need support from governments and donors, not only through direct development programs but also through national policies and programs that build sustainable adaptive capacities. It is important to build better rural infrastructure to connect farmers to markets. It can help to get better deals for machinery, seeds or other necessary inputs.

Small farmers are an integral part of our societies and, consequently, the effects of climate change on farmers can threaten food supplies and security as well as increase volatility in global food prices. These farmers are among the most immediately affected but are also the most powerless victims of climate change. Those who contribute least to global emissions are unfairly impacted by the lifestyles of wealthy consumers at the other end of the chain. They usually do not have a chance to participate in international climate change negotiations and global environmental and economic debates. Helping farmers deal with the effects of climate change needs to be a priority for all countries.

Nikola Rajčoková

Sources:

https://qz.com/845265/small-farms-are-just-as-important-as-big-agriculture-in-the-fight-against-climate-change/

https://www.ifad.org/topic/asap/tags/climate_change/2070757

http://www.takepart.com/article/2015/09/30/africa-farmers-climate-change/

https://www.ifw-kiel.de/pub/e-books/climate_change.pdf

http://pubs.iied.org/pdfs/16518IIED.pdf

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rosaly-byrd/climate-change-is-a-socia_b_5939186.html

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2211601X16000584