STA, 16 October 2020 - Putting 38% of Slovenian territory under Natura 2000 protection was "a shot in the knee", Prime Minister Janez Janša told the press after an EU summit that had climate goals as one of the items on the agenda. He indicated Slovenia would only support goals that are feasible.
The EU summit on Thursday called for a strengthening of climate ambitions in the next decade in order to achieve the goal of climate neutrality by 2050. There is no specific agreement yet on the goal to reduce emissions, the desire is to reach one in December.
It was agreed this time that the enhanced goal must be reached together in the most cost-effective way. All member states will participate, whereby national circumstances, fairness and solidarity will be considered.
Eleven member states that have pushed for more ambitious targets issued a special statement calling for an agreement on the goal to reduce emissions by at least 55% by 2030.
Asked whether Slovenia intended to join the eleven, having once considered itself as a climate-ambitious country, Janša said that "politics can change every day, but we will not change natural conditions, in particular when we shot ourselves in the knee in the past."
He said one such shot in the knee was declaring 38% of Slovenia's territory a Natura 200 area, where it is forbidden to produce energy from natural and sustainable sources. The European average is 18%.
"We'll try to be ecologically conscious and yet not be complete idiots like those who drew these maps at that time not realising what it is actually all about," he said.
"We will not deal with the signing of various statements in which you commit to high targets, but at the same time ... expect that others will achieve them," he said, noting that Slovenia would support goals that will actually be implemented and would not pay triple the price like some neighbouring countries might.
Speaking about the summit debate, Janša said that nobody had major qualms about the 55% target, but there were concerns about how to achieve it, the price, and a fair approach.
"These targets need to be achieved so that they are actually sustainable, it should not just be about achieving some formally determined targets notwithstanding the price and consequences."
This means that "it does not make sense to generously subsidise electric cars and abolish diesel [cars] but then burn coal in thermal power plants to charge electric cars. There are rational boundaries here that simply must be respected."
Janša also highlighted the issue of global competitiveness. If Europe, which produces just over a tenth of global emissions, sticks to the rules and limits its own industry to its detriment, its competitiveness will decline, which will leave less money for research and innovation, the only path to achieving long-term climate goals.
He said it was clear the targets cannot be achieved without nuclear energy, which is a problem for some countries. Slovenia will definitely not have a new generator at its nuclear power plant until 2030, which means a lot will have to be done to approach the target.
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STA, 18 June 2020 - The government has compiled a list of key investments that will be given priority treatment in administrative procedures so as to help kick-start the economy. The list currently features 187 investments worth EUR 7.7 billion and will be updated on an ongoing basis, Environment Minister Andrej Vizjak told the press on Thursday.
The minister said the main intention of the third stimulus package and the list of investments was to promote the implementation of projects which had come to a standstill due to bureaucratic complications.
A special task force will examine the projects giving them a priority mark based on their feasibility and whether their finances are already clear, he explained after the government session.
It will get down to work in the coming days, "starting with the projects which are closest to being implemented and which can be brought to life fastest".
The task force will feature representatives of agencies and other offices which are key in the process of obtaining permits.
This new approach could well halve the duration of certain administrative procedures, Vizjak said, adding that "the change at the helm of many institutions important for obtaining permits" would also make these offices act in a less bureaucratic manner.
The list features 22 environment projects worth EUR 310 million and 19 energy projects worth EUR 650 million, including a new reactor at Nuclear Power Plant in Krško.
There are also many transport projects, worth a combined EUR 4.5 billion.
Regional development projects, among them projects from health, education, culture etc, are worth more than EUR 2 billion.
"The government believes that starting an investment cycle in Slovenia does not only mean preserving jobs but also creating new ones. Not only in construction but also in many other industries which are related to construction ...."
Vizjak said this was the first list to start with, but it would be further refreshed with potential new investments before the summer holidays.
The list does not feature only publicly funded projects but also those funded from private sources.
"We also count a lot on the [EU post-Covid] recovery fund, which is still being consolidated and formed and which could be a source for many a project."
Also on the list are projects for which the finances have been fully secured, but are deadlocked due to failure to obtain permits.
The list moreover includes a number of projects which are needed systemically, from new homes for the elderly and housing to water supply, flood safety.
The minister believes the list is an important message to businesses showing that the government would like to encourage an investment cycle and "that everyone who would like to invest in environmentally feasible projects and who wants to see the country's further development in all areas, is welcome".
As for NEK 2, the second reactor at the Krško Nuclear Power Plant, Vizjak recalled it had been placed among important projects already back in 2006.
It has now made it to the list of key investments "because finally, siting procedures should be launched".
The Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS) has described the list as "a contribution to the revival of the economy and the preservation of many jobs".
The list, which was initially expected to include 50-odd projects, now features virtually all major public infrastructure projects currently under consideration.
Some of the biggest projects are ongoing construction of a new track between Divača and Koper, several smaller rail projects across the entire rail network, the north-south expressway in eastern Slovenia, dubbed the third development axis, and the passenger terminal in Ljubljana.
Energy projects on the list include the Mokrice hydro plant on the Sava, the second unit at Krško plus the radwaste repository, and a transmission line upgrade between Cirkovce and Pince in eastern Slovenia.
Several flood protection projects are on the list as well, along with multiple housing projects, construction of new care homes, hospitals and university buildings.
In the culture segment, the new wing of the National and University Library, dubbed NUK2, made the cut along with a renovation of the SNG Drama theatre in Ljubljana and the National Archives building.
STA, 3 June 2020 - The Administrative Court has upheld the decision of the Slovenian Environment Agency (ARSO) that an environmental impact assessment is needed before any permits can be issued for hydraulic fracturing planned by British company Ascent Resources at the Petišovci gas field in the north-east of Slovenia.
The London-based oil and gas exploration company, which is operating in Slovenia with its partner Geoenergo, announced the ruling on Tuesday.
It added that it is "in the process of beginning preparations for submission of an environmental impact assessment, alongside the stimulation and field development planning which was initiated recently".
ARSO said in March last year that the plans for hydraulic fracturing required an environmental impact assessment and this was confirmed in June last year by the Environment Ministry. Geoenergo therefore turned to the Administrative Court, which has upheld the decision.
"The court decision, along with earlier action by the state, will constitute important evidence to support the claim the company intends to bring against Slovenia under the Energy Charter Treaty," Ascent Resources added on Tuesday in a reference to plans to demand EUR 50 million in damages from Slovenia for delays in the development of the gas field.
Geoenergo, which is co-owned by the Slovenian state-controlled energy companies Petrol and Nafta Lendava and has been striving for the project together with Ascent Resources since May 2017, expressed on Wednesday regret over the court's decision.
It assessed that "an environmental impact assessment is not necessary for the planned intervention, one that has already been executed in past on several occasions in line with Slovenian legislation".
Geoenergo, which spoke of a key project "for the development of north-east Slovenia that would provide greater energy independence for Slovenia", added that the ruling would have negative consequences for "what are already unreasonably protracted administrative procedure that prevent the preservation of the existing production of gas".
Meanwhile, Ascent Resources announced for its investors last week that it would hold on to plans for the re-stimulation of its producing wells in Petišovci. It expects to obtain the necessary permits by the end of the year.
Ascent Resources moreover wrote that it has "observed the recent changes introduced by the new Slovenian government and increasingly confident position on the likelihood of the project receiving the permits required for further stimulation".
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STA, 12 May 2020 - The parliamentary Environment Committee approved on Tuesday an amendment to the nature conservation act significantly limiting the ability of NGOs to take part in administrative procedures representing public interest. Despite poor weather and a ban on public gathering, several hundred protesters rallied against the amendment.
The amendment was filed by the opposition National Party (SNS) as the committee was getting ready to debate government-sponsored changes to the nature conservation act which focused above all on tweaks needed to incorporate EU law.
The amendment, which is criticised by the opposition as an open attack on NGOs, is nearly identical to government-proposed changes recently passed to construction legislation, under which only a handful of NGOs are still able to represent public interest in construction permit procedures.
Under the changes, associations would have to have at least 50 active members, institutes would need at least three full-time employees with university degrees and institutions would need to have assets exceeding EUR 10,000.
Moreover, to represent the public, NGOs would have to meet these conditions retroactively for two years.
Also, they would have to prove their compliance by revealing annual assembly minutes, the names of those present and show bank accounts to prove membership fees are being paid.
Amid warnings that the amendment in this form would slash the number of NGOs recognised as representing public interest in conservation of natural environment from 47 to 5 and also affect key stakeholder associations, the coalition Modern Centre Party (SMC) filed an amendment to the amendment to "protect" certain environmental groups, among them the associations representing fishermen and beekeepers.
The changes were also questioned by the parliament's legal service, which took issue with they way they entered the session's agenda while also it also argued they could be at odds with the constitution.
Environment Minister Andrej Vizjak begged to differ, saying individuals would continue to be able to express their opinion and associations would be able to continue operating under the act governing associations.
He argued there were as many opinions as there were jurists and that similar arrangements were in place in other countries as well.
In the debate, the head of the Centre of NGOs, Goran Forbici, said that the amendment filed by the SMC only barely reduced the magnitude the blow. "It's like suffering a blow by a hammer instead of an axe."
He admitted there were anomalies among NGOs but called on addressing these in dialogue.
Luka Mesec of the Left said the amendment may be submitted for constitutional review, while the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) and the Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) also rejected the amendment.
The SNS and the coalition, on the other hand, defended it. Tadeja Šuštar of New Slovenia (NSi) said that a balance must be found between nature conservation and other projects, adding that some NGOs had no other purpose but to extort.
Mateja Udovč of the SMC meanwhile denied claims that her party filed the amendment to the SNS's amendment merely to establish "peace in the house".
Several hundred protesters gathered in front of the parliament during today's session in a rally organised by the Balkan River Defence movement. "I oppose that NGOs representing us, the people, are being excluded, first from construction and now from all court and administrative procedures," one of the protesters said.
Gaja Brecelj of Umanotera NGO told the STA that the amendment was unacceptable. "Just consider what having low food self-sufficiency meant for us in the coronavirus crisis - at the same time we are now thinking about building on these surfaces."
Blowing whistles, protesters carried banners saying "Hands off of nature" and "NGOs = Nature's Voice", among others. On social media, protesters were urged to wear protective facial masks, observe social distancing rules and ignore any provocations. The peaceful protest was monitored by police.
STA, 20 April 2020 - The Constitutional Court has repealed an emergency law ordering the culling of brown bear and wolf populations which was to remain valid until late September. Even though the cull determined by the law has already been carried out, the decision may prevent the adoption of emerging amendments that would increase the cull quota for this year.
The court has ruled that the law is in violation of Article 3 of the Constitution, which refers to the separation of powers between the three branches of government. Based on that, it did not rule on the substance of the law, said Alpe Adria Green, an environmental NGO.
The law gave permission to hunters to cull 175 bears and 11 wolves. Most of the animals have already been culled, but the NGO says the ruling would probably put a stop to an amendment to the act currently under discussion which would enforce additional culling.
A constitutional review of the bill was sought by the Legal-Informational Centre for NGOs and the Association for the Preservation of Slovenian Natural Heritage in July. The court agreed at the time that any culling should be regulated by the nature conservation act and the decree on protected wild animal species, while the culling should be ordered by the government.
After the Administrative Court annulled a number of such government decrees, parliament passed a law directly mandating the cull, a move that the Constitutional Court sees as violation of the principle of the separation of powers.
Since the legislation was to expire at the end of September, efforts to amend the act have begun. The changes, which were proposed by the National Council in February and enjoy support from the government, would expand the annual cull: 220 bears were to be killed between 1 May and 30 April 2021 and 30 wolves from May to late January 2021.
More than 30 environmental NGOs have protested against the proposal, addressing a letter to the EU Commission representation office and European Parliament office in Slovenia and urging the authorities to immediately impose a moratorium on carnivore culling in the country.
Slovenia has a thriving brown bear population that was estimated at 750-975 animals at the end of 2018 under a study conducted in the framework of the international project LIFE. Culling is a widely accepted management practice supported by researchers, but in recent years the public pressure to control the population has increased due to a growing number of human-bear conflicts.
The wolf population, meanwhile, is estimated at around 80 animals, according to a study commissioned by the Agriculture Ministry. Damage by wolves, in particular to livestock, has been increasing in recent years, but experts say culling must be very precise in order not to disturb the hierarchy of wolf packs, which may actually cause greater damage if packs are unstable.
STA, 28 March 2020 - The Environment Agency (ARSO) has issued a warning for today about high concentrations of harmful PM10 particles for Slovenia after Saharan dust reached Europe on Friday. It has advised people to stay indoors.
An average daily concentration is expected to exceed 100 microgrammes per cubic metre, while the allowed daily concentration is 50 microgrammes.
The situation should gradually improve on Sunday, yet high concentrations are still expected in central and southern Slovenia, ARSO says on its website.
Very high concentrations, even around 400 microgrammes per cubic metre, were measured in Slovenia already on Friday.
"We're not used to such high concentrations," Janja Turšič from ARSO told the STA, adding she could not remember Slovenia ever having recorded such high levels.
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STA, 21 March 2020 - Even though public life in Slovenia all but ground to a halt on Monday in a bid to curb the coronavirus outbreak, the Environment Agency (ARSO) has not detected any improvement in air quality.
The biggest source of air pollution in the country is coarse particulate matter (PM10) from household solid fuel boilers, whose contribution in the given situation is not smaller, but possibly even bigger, said ARSO.
Air in Slovenia is as a rule at its best in spring or autumn and limit values of pollutants are rarely exceeded at this time of year.
"Comparing air particle pollution this week and the week before, particle levels this week are generally slightly higher than last week, which is a result of meteorological conditions," said ARSO.
Slovenia has enjoyed a spell of stable warm sunny weather, which also means temperature inversion for the greater part of the morning as a result of which morning particle values are elevated.
As for the impact of the suspension of public transportation and air flights and a reduction in commuter traffic, ARSO says this could be reflected mainly in emissions of nitrogen oxides, but this type of pollution is not problematic in Slovenia.
Moreover, monitoring also shows that it is too early to draw any conclusions on the impact of the shutdown on NOx levels.
ARSO noted that industry contributed only a small portion of air pollution recorded by its monitoring stations, so they could speak of a reduction in emissions.
A fire broke out at Surovina waste management site in Tezno on Monday, prompting about 250 firefighters to work overnight. According to 24ur, this is the third and the biggest fire that broke out at the site in the last two weeks.
About five thousand tons of mixed waste designated as “alternative fuel”, including plastic, tyres and waste textiles, was stored in a 3500 m2 hall, built following a vast 2013 fire. Unofficially, the cause of the most recent fire that broken at about noon this Monday was self-ignition.
Almost all of the waste, as well as the hall’s roof, which collapsed inwards, burned in the fire. By now it has already been taken out, although firefighters continue to look for smouldering spots hiding under the charred garbage.
Maribor’s Mayor Saša Arsenovič emphasized that Surovina wasn’t a local governments company but a private waste management enterprise.
In 2018 Gorenje sold the company to Eko Surovina, which is in ownership of Rastoder Ltd, the company owned by the banana tycoon Izet Radtoder. The company then changed its name from Surovina Gorenje to Surovina LTD.
In a press release the Ministry of Environment said today that they regret that another fire occurred at a waste collection facility, and that it is aware of the pressing issue of the packaging waste piling up in Slovenia, an ongoing problem for the past several years.
Meanwhile citizens of Tezno are signing a petition in which they point to the air pollution these waste fires cause. “How much longer are we going to tolerate the pollution of our environment? Were we ever asked to give permission for dumping sites of two large companies (Surovina and Snaga) to be placed nearby our community?” they wrote in their petition.
STA, 26 February 2020 - Coarse particles (PM10) are seen as the biggest air pollutant in Slovenia with data from the Environment Agency's monitoring stations showing the highest concentrations for urban areas of Celje, Murska Sobota, Zagorje ob Savi, Ljubljana, Maribor, Novo Mesto and Trbovlje.
With a toxic industrial legacy, Celje stood out last year as the only location in Slovenia to exceed limit daily PM10 concentrations more than the allowed 35 times a year.
The limit 24-hour mean concentration of PM10 particles, set at WHO guideline value of 50 microns per cubic metre (ug/m3), was surpassed on 42 days, which compares to 35 days in 2018, 49 in 2017, 52 in 2016 and 70 days in 2015.
Excessive concentrations are recorded mainly in winter, when heating adds to other sources of pollution. Another downside is Celje's location in a basin where air pollution is aggravated by temperature inversions in winter.
Local authorities say the city will breathe cleaner air once they have implemented all sustainable mobility projects, and when the state builds a bypass to divert transit traffic out of the city.
To improve its air, the city is expanding its gas pipeline network and district heating system, renovating public buildings to make them more energy efficient and expanding its bicycle sharing system.
It has bought ten compressed natural gas city buses and built a modern filling station with a new park and ride facility to open on the city's outskirts by summer.
Environment Agency data show major air polluters in Celje are the Merkscha veneer mill and chemical company Cinkarna Celje, both of which say they have modernised to reduce emissions.
The mill says it has reduced annual dust emissions from 84 tonnes in 1974 to an average 13 tonnes a year, while Cinkarna says it has reduced its dust emissions by 69% since 2008.
City authorities say that air quality in Ljubljana is good; above-limit particle pollution is recorded only occasionally during the heating season. The main challenge outside that season is traffic.
Three out of four homes in the capital are connected to the district heating systems, so pollution in winter is mainly due to household heating on the outskirts.
The Ljubljana-Centre monitoring station recorded an annual mean value of 34.4 PM10 ug/m3 last year, down from 35.8 in 2018; the number of days on which the limit was exceeded dropped from 51 to 37.
The value of PM2.5 stayed at 21 ug/m3, the limit being 25 ug/m3, and the average annual concentration of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) was reduced from 48 to 45.3 ug/m3, the limit being 40 ug/m3.
The Ljubljana-Bežigrad monitoring station, which is representative for the whole city, recorded the annual mean for PM10 dropping from 26.9 to 23.2 ug/m3 and the number of above-limit days reduced from 28 to 16.
The annual mean for PM2.5 fell from 19 to 17 ug/m3 and the annual NO2 mean fell from 25.7 to less than 25 ug/m3 although data for December are not available yet.
The key step to improving the city's air was the closure of a section of Slovenska Cesta thoroughfare to all traffic except for buses and taxis. "Measurements show the value of black carbon there has dropped by 70% compared to background area [Vojkova Street], nor have values at surrounding roads increased," city authorities say.
Apart from implementing the sustainable mobility strategy and promoting cycling and walking, a key measure ahead will be a new gas steam power station to replace two out of three coal units at the TE-TOL co-generation plant.
The EUR 130 million investment is to allow the city to replace 70% of coal with natural gas by the end of 2022. Coal is to be fully phased out at TE-TOL in the future.
Under a private-public partnership signed in 2017, 48 public buildings in the municipality are to be renovated to improve their energy efficiency at the cost of EUR 14.9 million, VAT excluded, to save 8.25 million kilowatt hours of energy or over EUR 1 million a year.
Slovenia's second city has been improving its air pollution track record, but PM10 values are still above WHO guidelines, in particular in winter. Between January and November 2019, daily values in the centre were above the limit on 10 days, which compares to 30 the year before.
The city authorities say that the concentrations measured in recent years have been the lowest since 2001, which they attribute to the many measures taken, in particular in sustainable mobility and heating.
However, emissions from industrial sources have almost doubled over the past decade, which is due to new companies mushrooming up in business zones on the sites of once large companies that went bankrupt after independence.
The register of fixed air pollution sources shows the car parts maker Cimos Tam as by far the largest generator of dust, with other major polluters being bread and pasta company Žito, abrasives maker Weiler, Maribor foundry and the hydraulic lifting systems maker Palfinger.
Maribor also gets 13% of all traffic emissions in the country. On the city's periphery the main problems is emissions from individual household heating devices.
Among other measures taken, the city is planning to electrify public passenger transport and expand the network of cycling paths and pedestrianised zones. The city is served by a hybrid bus and a small plug-in passenger vehicle called Maister, which is free to use.
In a public-private partnership and with the help of EU funds, 24 public buildings have been renovated to improve their energy efficiency, including schools, kindergartens and sports and ice rink arenas. The city is also expanding its district heating and gas networks.
One of the areas with the highest levels of PM10 in the country, Murska Sobota saw the limit daily value exceeded 28 times last year, down from 46 in 2018. The data are from one of the two monitoring stations, with two more to be added soon.
The city is also introducing a smart sensor system to alert residents when to keep indoors due to excessive concentrations of air pollutants. Kindergartens, schools, nursing homes and other public institutions will get notifications automatically.
Based on the data gathered, city authorities will implement further measures to reduce PM10, including energy overhaul of buildings. The main sources of pollution are household furnaces and traffic.
The city has been promoting the use of public transportation, cycling and walking, slowing down traffic, securing its smooth flow, creating pedestrianised zones and expanding cycling paths and green areas.
The former mining and industrial region of Zasavje in central Slovenia remains one of the most heavily polluted regions in the country, the main reasons being emissions from industry, household furnaces and traffic, coupled with adverse meteorological conditions.
All of the region's major towns - Trbovlje, Zagorje ob Savi and Hrastnik - are located in the narrow, poorly ventilated valleys along the Sava River, which means that temperature inversion keeps polluted air close to the ground.
The Environment Agency (ARSO) has been recording a decline in annual mean concentrations of PM10 since 2002 as a result of lower emissions and purification systems at industrial facilities.
Last year the daily threshold PM10 values were exceeded 28 times in Zagorje, 16 times in Trbovlje and 9 times in Hrastnik.
But while ARSO data show that Hrastnik air is getting cleaner, those from the National Public Health Institute show the town had the highest death rate attributable to air pollution in the country between 2016 and 2018.
The local authorities argue that the data obtained from the ARSO monitoring station, located in a sports park away from sources of pollution, is not realistic. However, their appeals to ARSO and the Environment Ministry to relocate the station and set up additional ones has not been heeded.
In Trbovlje, the biggest source of PM10 are small household combustion installations. The biggest industrial polluter in the region used to be the cement plant, part of the Switzerland-headquartered multinational LafargeHolcim, which suspended production in 2015
The Hrastnik chemical company TKI would not disclose its air improvement measures for the STA, while the glassworks Steklarna Hrastnik as a major Zasavje polluter pointed to its investment into innovation and greener production.
Novo Mesto saw the threshold daily PM10 concentration exceeded 18 times last year, which is on a par with previous years. City authorities say that this means that more effort by everyone involved will be needed to achieve meaningful improvements in air quality.
To help plan further measures and evaluate the results of those already taken the city set up own air quality monitoring devices at 14 additional locations last year.
Household heating devices are blamed for two thirds of coarse matter particle emissions, with the other major source being road traffic.
The city has been investing intensively in sustainable mobility projects, including by switching to gas- and electricity-powered public transportation, putting in place plug-in infrastructure for cars and promoting walking, cycling and car sharing.
Like in other parts of the country, measures to modernise household heating systems are being taken with the help of subsidies from the Eco Fund.
Air quality in the Šalek Valley (NE) has improved since the launch of generator 6 at the Šoštanj coal-fired power plant (TEŠ) in June 2015. However, the plant's plans to replace part of coal with waste as fuel are causing public concern.
TEŠ says it has reduced CO2 emissions by 30% and substantially cut dust emissions. After the overhaul of the substitute unit 5 in 2017 and 2018, SO2 emissions have been halved compared to the recently phased out generator 4, NO emissions have been reduced by 60% and particle emissions by 80%.
The plant is considering waste co-incineration, which it says would reduce rather than increase the harmful impact on the environment. Its analyses show that 160,000 tonnes of alternative fuel would equal to 215,000 tonnes of fossil fuel, reducing SO2 emissions by 156,000 tonnes a year, with other emissions kept within permitted values.
The local environmental movement opposes the plans, arguing that co-incineration would "cancel out the first positive steps to improving the air". The movement also says that emissions from generator 5 show TEŠ has not met the cuts promised when planning unit 6.
The movement is collecting signatures against co-incineration, and a civil initiative is planning to challenge waste incineration in a referendum.
Kranj, Slovenia's fourth largest city, used to be one of the category 1 particle pollution areas in the country, but its air has since improved so that in February 2019 it exited the national air quality improvement programme.
The city has been focusing on measures to reduce emissions from building heating and road traffic. In a EUR 6.2 million project subsidised by EU cohesion funds, 22 public buildings have been renovated to reduce CO2 emissions by 1,300 tonnes a year.
Other measures include those aimed at improving traffic flow and promoting sustainable mobility with the first P+R and an integrated passenger terminal in the pipeline, along with the expansion of cycling paths and its cycle share network, the biggest e-bike system in the country.
Mayor Matjaž Rakovec is proud on the improvements, pledging for the efforts to continue. Residents can follow air quality monitoring at three most pollution-prone spots in the city.
Although the port town of Koper does not rank among areas with above-limit levels of air pollution, it does exceed limits at times, the main reason being transit traffic during the summer season.
Emissions from the city's dense road network rise several-fold in summer when the situation is compounded by ozone pollution.
As yet incomplete data from ARSO show hourly ozone warning limits in Koper were exceeded four times in 2019, all in June, while the daily 8-hour target level was surpassed 44 times, above the 25 permitted.
The daily PM10 mean concentration was exceeded 8 times in 2019, four times in 2018 and 18 times in 2017.
The city has made steps to reduce pollution, including measures to slow down traffic, expand green areas and promote green mobility, but local official say that the traffic problem may be solved comprehensively only in cooperation with the neighbouring communities and the national government.
The city has renovated more than half of all public buildings and partly refurbished 90% of buildings under its management in recent years to improve their energy efficiency.
PM10 levels are also monitored at the Koper port, but the operator Luka Koper says the values at the port are much lower than in many other parts of the country.
There’s growing awareness that plastic waste is a problem, and the use of single-use plastics, such as water bottles, is becoming increasingly unacceptable. One Slovenian project that’s stepping into this space to try and address part of the problem is myWater. The Vrhnika-based team have developed water fountains with a difference – they’re designed to refill bottles, and thus encourage people to carry their own containers and reuse them.
The dispensers are free to use and connected to the local water supply, bringing the convenience of home to the street. The innovation is aimed at the European market, and especially the Mediterranean region, along with Africa and Asia. Anywhere there’s a need for clean drinking water in public, with the myWater system using filtration technology to remove all pollutants before it reaches your bottle, including microbes, microplastics and harmful chemicals.
“We’ve been told that our fountain produces clean fresh tasting water that is better than bottled mineral water” said Robert Slavec, CEO of myWater and father of the inventor, Aljaz Slavec, who created the first prototype while still in high school. Together they are trying to deal with the impact that single use plastic water bottles have on the environment.
Aljaz and Robert Slavec with a water ATM at the ChangeNOW summit in Paris
While the dispenser has been shown internationally, to especially good reception at the ChangeNOW summit for change held in Paris last month, since autumn 2019 one pilot of myWater dispenser has been installed in Slovenia. That’s in Koper Municipality on the Semedela promenade, with the hope being that it can reduce the number of single-use plastic bottles thrown away by visitors and locals. The goal is to serve local water and within one year to reduce single-use plastic bottle waste by 100,000 units. The dispenser is made of Slovenian wood with a hole in the shape of a water drop to insert your bottle.
The next goal of myWater is to have its water dispensers at this summer’s World Expo in Dubai, while the firm is also working on a project to help places that aren’t connected to the water supply. With this, myWater aims to condense water vapour from the air and then clean it, so it’s good enough to drink.
You can learn more about myWater on the website, and also nominate the next city to have a myWater dispenser.