A first meeting of a newly formed Czech coal commission – aiming to prepare a plan for the future management of brown coal reserves in the country and, at least in name, referencing the German coal commission – met for the first time on Monday, August 26.
The Commission, which acts as an advisory board to the Czech government, is scheduled to meet montly until September 2020. Karel Havlicek, the Minister of Trade and Industry, and Richard Brabec, the Minister of Environment, act as chairmen of the Commission, while other members are:
- A deputy minister from the Regional Development Section in the Ministry of Regional Development
- A Deputy Minister for Legal and State Property from the Ministry of Finance
- ADeputy Minister for Employment from the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs
- The Chairman of the Czech Mining Authority
- The Chairman of the Confederation of Employers’ and Entrepreneurs’ Associations
- The Vice president of the Confederation of Industry
- The President of the Czech Chamber of Commerce
- The Deputy Chairman of the Czech-Moravian Confederation of Trade Unions
- 2 representatives of academia
- 2 representatives from NGO sector (Greenpeace and Hnuti DUHA)
- 2 representatives from the Czech Chamber of Deputies (from the supervisory committee for environment and the supervisory committee for energy)
- 3 representatives from three coal regions
According to the Czech environmental NGOs present, the main positive development in this first meeting was that there seemed to be a widespread understanding that the goal of the commission is to deliver a coal phaseout date by the end of its mandate. There was also an agreement that the coal phaseout must be discussed also in relation to households and heating plants.
NGOs stressed – and they were not the only ones among the commission members to do so – that a coal phaseout date would better be chosen before 2050, and that the commission must work out proposals to address the social problems affecting coal regions.
A major concerns, from the perspective of Czech environmental NGOs, is that representatives of the renewable energy sector and of coal communities are not included in the commission. There are concerns that, in a less representative commission as the current one is, the messages of the coal and nuclear lobby might be heard louder than those of affected local communities or other sectors of society.