Crazy for cars, Czechs fail to curb greenhouse gases

Pavel Baroch
3. 10. 2007 5:30
A new environmental report sounds a wake-up call
Hopes of greenhouse gases reduction go up in smoke
Hopes of greenhouse gases reduction go up in smoke | Foto: Ondřej Besperát, Aktuálně.cz

Prague - Over the last 16 years, the volume of greenhouse gas emissions generated by the automobile traffic in the Czech Republic went up by one hundred per cent.

The heavy use of cars is the main reason behind the Czech Republic´s failure to limit carbon dioxide emissions which are believed to cause global warming. And it makes the country one of the worst polluters in Europe.

"There has been no decrease in greenhouse emissions since the year 2000, mostly because of the increase in traffic. The volume of the generated pollutants per capita remains well above the average European Union level," says the latest report on the state of the environment which the Czech government is to discuss today and which Aktuálně.cz gained access to.

Increase in emissions

The preliminary findings claim that the amount of the climate change inducing emissions has gone up after several years of stagnation and reached a five-year high.

Sharp increase in the automobile traffic harms the environment in other ways too: small dust particles concentrate in the air, hundreds of thousands of people have to live with excessive noise around them and new highways and motorways are carving more and more space from the environment.

All gas, no brakes. Cars are taking more and more space
All gas, no brakes. Cars are taking more and more space | Foto: Ludvík Hradilek

"The continuing dynamic development of road traffic has to be seen as negative, because it makes it harder to achieve goals of lifting the burden off of the environment, especially in the area of greenhouse gases, air pollutants and noise," warns the document, which has been put together by the Czech Environmental Information Agency (CENIA) with the use of data provided by the Czech Hydrometeorogical Institute.

In love with cars

Last year confirmed the existing gap between personal automobile traffic and mass transportation. People continue to favor the more comfortable, but less environment-friendly cars over cleaner modes of transportation like trains or buses. The difference between road and railway cargo transportation is even more pronounced.

"Long-term tendencies in transportation confirm in an unequivocal way the increasing dominance of road-based transportation as opposed to railway-based transportation, especially in the cargo sphere," says the report.

The Central vehicle database shows an increase in all types of cars with the exception of eco-friendly buses. There are now four per cent more personal cars and almost fourteen per cent more trucks, which are the biggest pollution contributor, than there were a year ago.

"The increasing number of vehicles puts more pressure on the motorway network and brings more demands for the land annexation," states the report.

Alternative fuel scarce, but on the rise

There is still few cars using eco-friendly fuel on Czech roads, although there has been an increase in their number in recent years. The difference this could make is huge given the fact that cars fuelled by natural gas produce 90 per cent less harmful substances.

We are on the right track, says Martin Bursík. His optimism might be challenged by the new report
We are on the right track, says Martin Bursík. His optimism might be challenged by the new report | Foto: Tomáš Adamec, Aktuálně.cz

There were 117 thousand cars using propane/butane, 1,4 thousand cars using compressed natural gas and just 80 using electricity at the end of last year. In comparison there were more than 4 million vehicles fuelled by gasoline and 1,4 million cars using diesel.

Minister of Environment Martin Bursík wants to see the share of hybrid, CNG or bio-fuel cars in the ministerial car parks and regional administrative offices reach one quarter of their total number by the end of 2013.

Mr. Bursík believes the state and local government units have to lead by example. He said for example that as many as eight thousand police vehicles could use engines powered by alternative fuel.

"I see natural gas as the most perspective alternative fuel," he was also heard saying. There has been an increase of more than 30 per cent of that particular type of cars and buses last year. "I think we are on the right track," said Bursík.

Concentration of small dust particles in the air - situation in the Czech Republic:

Foto: Aktuálně.cz


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Zdroj: ČTK
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