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Climate protection in European

Smart ideas and startling reports: how young Europeans are engaged in protecting the climate.

Jasmin Siebert, 09.12.2019
Tamás Angeli (left) and Dániel Szalai at the steelworks
Tamás Angeli (left) and Dániel Szalai at the steelworks

By 2030, EU member states want to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 per cent compared to emissions in 1990. That is what they promised in the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. In order to achieve this ambitious goal, the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) has launched the European Climate Initiative EUKI. EUKI supports 64 projects in 24 countries of the European Union that deal with different aspects of climate protection: climate policy, energy saving, renovation of buildings and, above all, raising awareness. We present projects involving young people from different European countries:

Young Energy Europe

At Young Energy Europe, young employees of industrial companies implement their own energy-saving projects in their companies. The project was initiated in 2017 by a subsidiary of the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry. More than 7,000 participants from Germany, Bulgaria, Greece, the Czech Republic and Hungary were trained in four-day workshops as “energy scouts”. The goal: find energy guzzlers in their own companies, save costs and reduce the CO2 footprint. Once a year, the best ideas of a country are chosen and the teams invited to the Hannover Fair, the most important international platform for technology.

More light for steelworks

Two of the participants are Tamás Angeli and Dániel Szalai, the Hungarian national winners of 2018. When they started working in a Hungarian steelworks, not a single ray of sunlight penetrated the hall where steel plates were worked. Instead, 326 lights burned around the clock, each with an output of approximately 580 watts.

The two energy scouts recorded the consumption and used special software to calculate that 300 modern LED lamps with only ever 200 watts of power could replace the old bulbs. In addition, they suggested replacing the old roof panels with translucent windows.

The new windows in the factory let daylight into the large room, so the lamps can often stay off
The new windows in the factory let daylight into the large room, so the lamps can often stay off © ISD/Dunaferr

The steel plant implemented the proposals and has since saved 76 per cent of its previous electricity costs. The investment costs have been balanced in less than two years. Because now natural light comes into the rooms, the lamps can sometimes be completely switched off. The company was able to reduce its CO2 emissions by 326 tonnes a year. That is about as much CO2 as 30 Germans consume on average in a whole year.

A curtain saves cooling costs

Remarkably simple, but all the more effective, is also the project of Eleni Outsiou, with which she became the second Greek national winner in 2018. The young employee at the headquarters of the supermarket chain Lidl Hellas analysed the use of air conditioning in the warehouse of a branch shop. She noticed that consumption was always particularly high when fresh goods were delivered in summer. Then the doors to the loading dock and the freezer rooms were open.

Eleni Outsiou of Lidl Hellas came up with the idea of putting a strip curtain in front of warehouses
Eleni Outsiou of Lidl Hellas came up with the idea of putting a strip curtain in front of warehouses © Lidl Hellas

Outsiou suggested installing a strip curtain on the loading dock. And her employer took up the idea: he had strip curtains mounted in all 221 Greek Lidl shops, thus significantly reducing energy requirements. The investment already paid itself out nine months after installation. The curtains keep out not only the heat but also insects. Less food had to be thrown away.

Insights into the climate protection of other countries

The Climate and Energy Scholarship for Journalists from Central and Eastern Europe takes a slightly different approach to climate protection and sustainability, organized by the International Journalist Programme (IJP) and financed by EUKI. For two months, reporters can work at a news medium in other European countries and gain detailed insights into the topics of climate and energy. In 2018, for example, the Czech radio journalist Tereza Šťastná spent two months at the Deutsche Welle in Bonn, where she did research on, among other things, insects as an organic food and a climate-neutral life.

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“Renewable energies are much more of a topic in Germany than in the Czech Republic”, said Šťastná in an interview with the EUKI. The young journalist was particularly impressed by the close exchange with experts. “After my return, I suggested to my boss that in future we pay more attention to climate and energy issues – and he was very receptive. Since then we publish about 50 per cent more articles on these topics and I’ve already initiated several rounds of discussions with experts.”

Taking ideas back home

Marina Kelava from Zagreb spent two months at the German daily newspaper taz in Berlin at the end of 2018. She has always been interested in environmental issues: “Even though I write about human rights, resource allocation and the economy, I keep coming back to environmental issues”, she says.

In Berlin, the Croatian journalist researched repair cafes, cargo bikes and sharing services. She says: “I hope some of the ideas that I picked up in Germany can also be put into effect back home”. Kelava is thinking, for example, of the possibility of a bicycle rental in Zagreb.

She herself often takes bike tours, once even riding from the Czech Republic to the Netherlands. On the way, she visited environmental projects in Germany. Her most formative experience was the visit to the brown coal opencast mine Hambach in North Rhine-Westphalia: “I’d seen coal mines before but never destruction like this. I'll never forget it.” Through her work, Kelava wants to draw attention to such issues. The exchange has encouraged her. “Unfortunately, there are only a few journalists in Croatia who, like me, specialize in environmental issues. That’s why I especially looked forward to the exchange with German colleagues.”

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