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Staunch Supporter of the Green Deal

Damir Habijan, Croatian Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development

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Croatia is dedicated to the European Green Deal and is striving to achieve climate neutrality by 2050, having made substantial decarbonisation efforts in the energy sector and economy over recent years

In Croatia’s transition to climate neutrality, certain sectors will have to make more significant changes than others, says Croatian Economy and Sustainable Development Minister Damir Habijan. This is the case with energy-intensive industries that are essential to the Croatian economy and that other sectors rely on. This makes their modernisation and decarbonisation very important. “This is an opportunity to stimulate the growth of industrial production, the investment cycle, the development of new activities through improvements to existing infrastructure and technological solutions, innovation, transfers of advanced technologies, significant structural changes in all sectors,” explains our interlocutor.

Sustainable development and climate change are key global and European concerns, with climate resilience posing a major contemporary challenge. Nearly all industrial activities face threats from climate change, necessitating the development and adoption of new, effective technologies to mitigate emissions and foster a cleaner environment.

“The Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development is currently in the final stages of drafting the National Industrial Development and Entrepreneurship Plan for the period until 2027. The “Green Transition and circular economy” has been identified as one of the seven specific objectives of the National Plan. This objective is defined as a response to the development challenges of net-zero emissions to industry and entrepreneurship, increases in the use of renewable energy sources for energy security and the realisation of environmental benefits, the modernisation and decarbonisation of industry, the sustainability of industry and the resilience of enterprises to environmental and social trends and the circular economy,” says minister Habijan.

Croatia supports increasing the CO2 emissions reduction target and is committed to implementing the European Green Deal and to the goal of making Europe the world’s first climate-neutral continent by 2050. Accordingly, over the last few years, the Republic of Croatia has exerted significant efforts to decarbonise the energy sector and the economy. A green energy transition requires the fulfilling of three objectives at the EU level: 1. reducing CO2 emissions; 2. increasing energy production from renewable sources, increasing the share of energy from renewable sources in total consumption; and 3. increasing energy efficiency. All three objectives contribute strongly to decarbonising the economy. “Equally important is the development of new technologies, especially those that can ensure emissions reductions in energy-requiring industries,” notes the Minister.

This also means increasing the capacity of our own energy production in the segment of renewables, which – when combined with reducing CO2 emissions and increasing energy efficiency – will also increase our energy self-sufficiency. In following the European Green Deal, the Republic of Croatia has adopted a series of strategic documents adapted to the principles of sustainability and emphasising concrete measures, the implementation of which will achieve the set goals related to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing energy efficiency and utilising renewables. One of the four development directions of the National Development Strategy for 2030 is the Green and Digital Transition, which emphasises that the Republic of Croatia will be among the European leaders in turning climate and environmental challenges into opportunities, ensuring a just and inclusive transition to climate neutrality. The green and digital transitions will be achieved through a clean energy transition, boosting green and blue investment, decarbonising buildings, developing a circular economy, strengthening self-sufficiency in food production, developing the bioeconomy, and preserving and restoring ecosystems and biodiversity. Our aim is to become one of the leaders of the green economy and the introduction of cleaner, cheaper and healthier forms of transport by promoting a safe and sustainable transport policy. As part of this development direction, four strategic objectives have been highlighted: environmental and energy transition for climate neutrality; self-sufficiency in food and bioeconomy development; and sustainable mobility.

Croatia strongly backs the European Green Deal and EU decarbonisation policies, as evidenced by its recent strategic documents

In addition to the National Development Strategy for 2030, in an effort to strengthen decarbonisation and green transition, important sectoral strategies and documents have been adopted that are adapted to the principles of sustainability and emphasise concrete measures, the implementation of which will achieve goals related to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing energy efficiency and utilising renewables.

The Energy Development Strategy of the Republic of Croatia until 2030, with a view to 2050 (adopted in February 2020) clearly promotes the development of renewables and envisages more than 2,500 MW of new installed capacity in renewables.

“Although an emphasis is placed on wind and solar power plants, the potential also exists in the bioeconomy (biomass and biogas), and especially in geothermal energy,” adds our interviewee. “The green policy is also visible in the Low Carbon Development Strategy of the Republic of Croatia until 2030, with a view to 2050 (adopted in June 2021), the fundamental goals of which include achieving sustainable development based on a low-carbon economy and resource efficiency.”

An additional effort in pursuit of green policies and decarbonisation was exerted with the publishing of the so-called ZERO SCENARIO for the energy sector, which, after the European Green Deal and “Fit for 55”, further elaborated a way to achieve even greater CO2 savings compared to the scenarios proposed by the Energy Development Strategy of the Republic of Croatia until 2030 with a view to 2050. In addition, in March 2022, the Croatian Hydrogen Strategy for 2050 was adopted, which places an emphasis on the production, storage and use of hydrogen, as one of the essential elements for the decarbonisation of industry and the energy sector. “The most important implementing act adopted on the basis of the Regulation on the Governance of the Energy Union and Climate Policies (Regulation (EU) 2018/1999) is the Integrated Energy and Climate Plan (SO-CALLED NECP – National Energy and Climate Plan) for the period from 2021 to 2030,” highlights our interlocutor. “It sets binding national targets for reducing CO2 emissions compared to 1990 levels, increasing the share of renewable energy in total consumption and improving energy efficiency.”

Finally, given that the Republic of Croatia has great potential when it comes to the use of geothermal energy for heating, but also for producing electricity, the Plan for the Development of the Geothermal Potential of the Republic of Croatia until 2030 was adopted in May 2023. This plan ensures compliance with the strategic commitments and policy of the Republic of Croatia regarding renewables, as well as compliance with EU guidelines and goals related to energy policy and the European Green Deal.

OBJECTIVE

Croatia aims to boost renewable energy production until 2030 in order to reduce CO2 emissions in the energy sector, which requires increased investment in clean technologies.

DECARBONISATION

The Republic of Croatia has exerted significant efforts in order to decarbonise the energy sector and the economy.

GOALS

Croatia’s Energy Strategy until 2030 promotes a new renewable energy capacity exceeding 2,500 MW.

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