Ten tips for a greener Romania
More trees, less litter, better buses and the chance to take a regional lead: British Ambassador to Romania Robin Barnett offers suggestions on improving the local environment
1. Boost energy efficiency
This is an easy win. It contributes to reducing Romaniaís CO2 emissions and saves hard working familiesí money. In this context, President Basescuís proposal to use EU funds to insulate former Communist blocks is interesting since it meets the energy efficiency aim and could contribute to tackling the economic crisis.
2. Increase use of public transport
Even in cities, Romanians continue their love affair with the car. The result is pollution, congestion and high levels of CO2 emissions. The solution ought to involve increased use of public transport. That means delivering regular and reliable buses, metro and trams and favouring public transport over the car.
Romania has seen the consequences of deforestation. I was delighted to have participated in a tree planting effort in Comanesti, Bacau county, which brought together national and local authorities, politicians, NGOs and the media. What happened in Comanesti is an excellent example of the importance of sound management of Romaniaís forests, which are not only an important natural resource, but also vital to environmental protection.
4. Carbon Capture and Storage
This winterís European Council allocated 300 million Euro in allowances to fund demonstration projects in Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) in different countries. CCS attempts to enable the continuity of coal in energy generation in ways that will not produce excessive CO2. Given the importance of coal in energy generation, this is a priority. The UK hopes that Romania will consider seriously bidding for one of these projects.
5. Take advantage of the new carbon technology
History shows that those who move first get the greatest advantages of new technology. To ensure commitments under the EU energy and climate change 2020 package and more widely, we need a rapid shift towards new and efficient low carbon technology. If Romania moves early in this direction, it will be an important advantage for its economy.
As individuals, we can all do more to recycle our metal, glass and paper. If a local mayor or council does not already provide facilities for recycling, please encourage them to do so.
7. Dropping less litter
Romania has some fantastic sites of great natural beauty. Unfortunately far too many are spoiled by enormous amounts of litter. It is in the interest of everyone to put plastic bottles in the nearest bin or take them home rather than regarding our surroundings as a convenient rubbish dump.
8. Raise public awareness on climate change
The UK Embassy has worked well with the Ministry of Environment, Education, Parliament and NGOs to raise awareness on the consequences of climate change particularly among the young. But there is a lot more to do. I hope that teaching children about the importance of fighting climate change and protecting the environment will become a standard part of the curriculum. There also needs to be a better dialogue with Romanian firms to highlight why tackling climate change offers great business opportunities.
9. Climate Change
Romania has made clear its commitment to EU climate change policy and welcomed the adoption of the 2020 package. But there is a long way to go with implementation across the EU and there is a continued need for a global agreement to fight climate change. The UK very much hopes that the new Romanian Government will continue from where the previous one left off and will take an active part in implementing the obligations the EU has assumed and ensuring that international negotiations reach a successful conclusion. Given recent climatic events including drought, floods and rising temperatures, this is in Romaniaís interest.
10. Take a regional lead
Romania has rightly highlighted the importance of the Black Sea region. It is widely accepted that the Black Sea area poses significant environmental challenges. This is an important area where Romania can take a lead in promoting a dialogue with the other states in the region to develop a greater common understanding of the importance of tackling climate change.