how to use opportunities and set realistic goals?

Don’t heat the street

— The European Parliament recently adopted a directive on increasing the energy efficiency of buildings. What does this mean for Latvia?

– The truths contained in this directive – you need to put your house in order and save heat – are taught in school, grade, probably in the third. But the point is that the adoption of the directive opens the door to European funds. After the adoption of the directive, each of the 27 EU member states must propose its own action plan for its implementation. And what matters is how each country uses this new opportunity.

In Latvia there is an entire Ministry of Climate and Energy, which, alas, is neither heard nor seen. I think if you conduct a survey among the residents of Latvia, who is our Minister of Climate and Energy and whether there is one at all, then 95 percent will not be able to answer. But today is the time for Minister Kaspars Melnis to come out of the shadows and present his proposals for insulating buildings.

Although let’s be honest: there are many bad examples in this area. To begin with, the Riga Town Hall itself is an illustration of the lack of insulation. Another example is the building of the Latvian Television on Zakusala, where heat escapes from all the cracks and which is used well if only 30 percent. In Zakusala the air temperature is probably one and a half degrees higher than in other areas of Riga – the huge television building heats it so powerfully! The Ministry of Agriculture still occupies a glass, windswept high-rise building on the banks of the Daugava.

Against this background, the constant calls of those who live on taxpayers’ money for the residents of Latvia to invest in home insulation sound, to put it mildly, unconvincing, or rather, shameful.

Let’s ask a question: what did state and municipal institutions do to avoid heating the streets with taxpayers’ money, how much did they save? The answer will probably sound like this: we are going to insulate, but there is no money.

So, the new European directive opens up opportunities for moving to a new level of energy efficiency in buildings. If today the Minister of Climate and Energy woke up and tried to prove his necessity, it would be a positive step for everyone.

Closer to reality

— As part of the Green Deal, it was decided to abandon the production of cars with internal combustion engines from 2035. However, polls show that Europeans are not ready for such a step. Will the deadlines be adjusted?

“This issue affects the interests of all Europeans. There are problems of combating climate change that are specific to the south of the EU – Italy, Spain, Cyprus, and to the north – the Scandinavian countries. Somewhere there is sun all year round, and somewhere there is polar night. Most Europeans support things like green standards in industry, a ban on short flights and private jets. But virtually all residents of the European Union, regardless of political views, are against a ban on internal combustion engines by 2035.

Of course, this decision is essentially completely correct. Pollution from gasoline vehicles is enormous. But it is already clear that it will not be possible to meet the scheduled deadline. Pioneer principle: “Be prepared! – Always ready!” doesn’t work here. Well, it won’t be that on December 31, 2034, the clock struck midnight, everyone raised their glasses of champagne – and the production of cars with internal combustion engines stopped.

According to existing standards, seven years before the scheduled date – by 2028 – industrial enterprises must rebuild conveyors and change the structure of production. Now it’s already 2024, and the preparatory work hasn’t even begun…

Electric cars today run on a lithium battery. They are still quite bulky, and scientists are constantly looking for ways to reduce their volume. We remember that the first mobile phones also weighed one and a half kilograms, and now they weigh much less. But this path still has to be traveled, and it will not be completed in a couple of years.

Now the situation in the world is extremely tense, a lot of money is spent on military needs, so I think the next convocation of the European Parliament will make adjustments to the decision to ban gasoline cars. This topic is already being discussed informally.

In general, I’m not sure that when making plans, it makes sense to name a specific year – 2035, 2050, whatever. (Remember, once upon a time the date of the construction of communism was also precisely indicated?) Now there is too much uncertainty in the world, so I would suggest being friends with your head and not setting impossible tasks. Unfortunately, we still have many political calls that are absolutely correct, but not backed up by concrete actions.

Rails to nowhere?

— After your interviews, an active discussion of the construction of Rail Baltica began in the Latvian media. Many people are disappointed that the high-speed track will pass by Riga in the first stage. Can anything change in this matter?

– Everything remains as I said. Definitely, European funds will be allocated only for the main track. If we get rich, we will be able to establish branches in Riga, and in Cesis, wherever we want. Figuratively speaking, the EU provides the main course, and everyone drinks champagne at their own expense.

In order for the megaproject to take place, the main railway line must first be built. If it doesn’t exist, then nothing else will exist. Otherwise, it will turn out that we are building a bridge in the middle of the desert in the hope that someday there will be water there.

— Meanwhile, a station near Riga airport is being built…

— Recently, near the hospital in Gaiļezers, a multi-storey maternity hospital building built in 1985 was demolished. During this time, the long-term construction turned into ruins. I fear that the station near the airport may suffer the same fate and become a monument to irresponsibility. If there is no main track, then no one will need the station. Or the building can be used for other purposes – as a warehouse or kiosk.
And the builders are working hard there, of course, since the contracts with them were concluded two or three years ago. And terminating them now means being subject to the payment of penalty interest. No one will take on this.

At one time, the calculation was probably that the main thing was to start construction, and only then Europe would help, find money in some other pocket. In a certain sense, this can be called blackmail of the European Union.

But today it will not pass, since there are about 12 similar projects in the EU, and the changed international situation requires a redistribution of funds. So, unfortunately, for now, instead of the project of the century, it turns out to be the failure of the century. Whether this Minister of Transport or the next one who comes to his place, is obliged to tell people the truth about the current situation.


Prepared with the support of the Progressive Alliance of Democrats and Socialists of the European Parliament.

About MEP Andris Ameriks and direct contact with him:

#opportunities #set #realistic #goals
2024-04-10 04:03:34

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