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Respekt: Czechs unlike politicians are interested in environment

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Prague, Dec 5 (CTK) – The Czech media often view environmental protection as a dirty word, an invention of the spoilt elites or radicals, but various polls show that the Czechs are quite interested in the environment and that they are not hostile to green themes, Martin Uhlir writes in weekly Respekt out yesterday.
Yet, Czech politicians are not interested in air harming health and other environmental issues, Uhlir writes.
He writes that in spite of the long-standing campaign conducted by former president Vaclav Klaus and his followers against those blaming climate change on man, a big majority of Czechs realise that this phenomenon is a serious problem, which was caused by man partially at least, Uhlir writes.
He writes that in a recent public opinion poll conducted for the association of NGOs, Green Circle, two thirds of people demanded that Czech politicians pay greater attention to environmental protection.
They specially mentioned the strongly polluted air in Ostrava, north Moravia, a town with around 300,000 inhabitants, in Prague and elsewhere, Uhlir writes.
He asks why politicians do not react to this and why the public pressure on politicians in this respect is not stronger.
No discussions are held on why the state supports the burning of coal in households, which further worsens the air, with subsidising the replacing of old boilers with new ones, Uhlir writes.
Politicians are doing nothing for a more sustainable farming either. Before the 2013 general election, politicians from the Social Democratic Party (CSSD), the ANO movement and the Christian Democratic Party (KDU-CSL), which form the current coalition government, promised to improve land protection, Uhlir writes.
However, they have done the utter opposite. Now, it is easier to build up arable land, he writes.
The situation with wastes recycling is similar. It has been reduced for the benefit of incineration plants, Uhlir writes.
The role of the public in decision-making on new construction projects has weakened at variance with election promises and the government has partially lifted coal-mining limits, Uhlir writes.
He writes that Bohuslav Sobotka’s (CSSD) government deserves praise in some respects, for instance, for its support for energy conservation and the construction of solar panels on the roofs of one-family houses.
However, on the whole, the government is still under the influence of various lobbies and it lacks a modern environmental vision, Uhlir writes.
He writes that more than a half of Czechs breathe an air which damages the hereditary information and which can cause cancer. The substances it contains shorten life, lower men’s fertility and cause asthma, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.
According to the latest researches, smog affects children’s IQ and contributes to the development of Parkinson and Alzheimer’s diseases, Uhlir writes.
Politicians may neglect these problems because easy solutions have been exhausted and the difficult ones are painful, Uhlir writes.
He writes that in the Ostrava vicinity, where too many heavy industry capacities are accumulated, the situation could be tackled by closing down some metallurgical works, coking plants or iron works.
However, this would threaten jobs, which would further worsen unemployment in a region where it is one of the highest in the country, Uhlir writes.
In Prague, where transport is the biggest polluter, a solution would be found more easily, but the City Hall does not want to anger voters-motorists, Uhlir writes.
He writes that the situation is also to blame on the public. Two thirds of people consider environmental pollution a problem, but the same respondents do not mind excessive car transport.
This may mean that people want to breathe clean air, but they would not accept any limitations because of this, Uhlir writes.
He writes that the West had much more time for tackling the environmental issue, while the Czech Republic passed a majority of environmental rules without any profound debate within three years of its entry into the European Union in 2004.
This undoubtedly helped the environment, but people need more time to change their stances, Uhlir writes.

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