The "green economy" and an opportunity for transforming industry: these were the main topics discussed in a recent conference organized online by the Euractiv Slovensko portal between 30 November and 3 December 2020.
Among the participants was U. S. Steel Košice Vice President Miroslav Kiraľvarga in the role of President of the National Union of Employers. He pointed out that the members of NUE form a wide spectrum, so the green economy definitely concerns them. Industrial emissions in Slovakia in 2019 amounted to 22 million tons, which means that if we closed down the top three largest factories, which annually emit 11-12 million tons of CO2, the target for the year 2030 would immediately be met. That is not the intention, however. He expects that, as in other countries, manufacturers will be able to make use of public funds for decarbonization while maintaining their production and their self-sufficiency. Decarbonization means enormous transformation. If we are to invest in it, we need to have a clear plan.
He also mentioned the effect on prices of products imported into the EU of the so-called carbon border adjustment mechanism, which is supposed to compensate for environmental costs incurred by European companies. This mechanism however has still not been sorted out by the European Commission. They also need to consider the opposite direction as well, that is when Slovak manufacturers want to export products and they have to calculate carbon costs into their prices beforehand. According to Miroslav Kiraľvarga, it is always necessary to keep an eye on the market, not only to ensure nowadays that it is "green", but also competitive in a fair way, and to do everything we can to protect it. Since 2009 the volume of steel produced in the EU has fallen by 20 million tons and 80 000 people have lost their jobs, but in 2019 alone the production volume dropped by 8 million tons and 15 000 steelmaking jobs were wiped out in the EU itself. There is a double threat if the necessary measures are not taken: not only will European companies lose their competitive edge, but they will also be forced to move to other countries outside the EU. In order for the 17 billion euros available from the EU Recovery Plan, Modernization Fund and other sources to be utilized effectively, there must be clear rules governing the drawing of these resources and some kind of competition for acquiring them as well.
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