Central Europe Looks Beyond Coal
Alternative energy production and new conservation tools are raising hope in Central Europe. Our region includes communities near the former “Black Triangle,” the border region shared by Germany, Poland, and the Czech Republic, that has long suffered from the polluting emissions of industry, coal-fired power plants, and open pit mines. The European Union is working on its future climate and energy scenarios, to bring clean and affordable energy to its citizens and hold its commitments to protect the global climate.
My organization—the Frank Bold Society—is working to transform our region’s energy platform and embrace a clean, green future. Together, we hope to protect public health and prevent further deterioration of the natural environment by advancing green energy policy. We call ourselves the Frank Bold Society because we are “frank” about our reasons and “bold” about our actions.
I lead the Frank Bold Society’s Responsible Energy Section. Currently, our focus is coal-fired power plants and coal mines in Czech Republic, Poland, and Romania that are some of the oldest and most polluting in the European Union. My colleagues and I advocate for cleaner operations and work to advance air quality management plans and enforcement of emissions standards. In this era of globalization, advances in technology, law, and policy in one country have impacts on the rest of the world.
In March, I traveled to Eugene, Oregon, to participate in a 10-week Fellows Program at the Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide. I learned how the U.S. and other countries around the world are using law and policy to shift the ways we produce and use energy towards sustainable low-carbon alternatives. I met one-on-one with ELAW Staff Attorneys and Staff Scientists, and sat in on law classes at the University of Oregon where I learned about energy and environmental regulation in the U.S. I explored the state of renewables with Ray Neff at Oregonians for Renewable Energy Progress (OREP) and Marcus Kauffman, Biomass Resource Specialist, Oregon Department of Forestry. Many U.S. states have developed progressive tools to advance renewable energy and energy efficiency, with consumers driving the change. At the same time, in Europe we share similar policy and technological hurdles. ELAW Staff Attorneys and Staff Scientists helped me analyze the parallels in energy infrastructure and energy markets in Europe and the U.S.
I participated in a University of Oregon Energy Law Conference in Portland, Oregon, with speakers from the regulatory, policy, and business fields. The excitement was palpable! We shared the excitement about many new developments in the energy field and the possibility of a smart future. I also traveled to Seattle to tour Enwave’s Steam Plant and meet with staff at Northwest SEED (Sustainable Energy for Economic Development), the Sierra Club, and Earthjustice to discuss recent developments in the energy sector in the Pacific Northwest. Seeing progress in the U.S. and around the world has broadened my European perspective and will inspire my work for years to come.
Many thanks to University of Oregon’s American English Institute for providing me with a Director’s Distinction Scholarship for the Intensive English Program and to the Trust for Mutual Understanding for supporting my travel expenses. And thanks to the Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide for making my stay possible.
Kristina Sabova is Head of the Responsible Energy Section at Frank Bold Society. She graduated from the Faculty of Law at the Comenius University in Bratislava.