Wildfires Can’t Extinguish Climate Change Scepticism in Czechia
Amid the vicious heatwave pummelling Europe, the acrid stench of wildfires invaded homes across Czechia as fire ripped through Ceske Svycarsko (Czech Switzerland), one of the country's four national parks. Germany. Italy, and Slovakia joined the battle, as the inferno threatened to consume the area's magical sandstone stacks and pine forest sitting on Czechia's northwest border.
Hundreds were forced to evacuate homes and holiday cottages as more than a thousand firefighters fought to contain the blaze. At the time of writing, after two weeks, fire crews claimed to have wrested control, even if the fire was not extinguished.
Huge swathes of the forest - already ravaged in recent years by a bark beetle infestation - have been destroyed. The one comfort is that Pravcicke brana, a massive natural rock gate which is the park's crowing glory, survived.
Initially, the threat to this national treasure appeared to focus minds. Even Petr Fiala, the conservative prime minister who blasted the EU's climate agenda when he took power in December, admitted that the link between the fires and climate change can no longer be ignored.
That's some volte-face. Fiala has made plain his opposition to Brussel's efforts to end the sale of petrol and diesel cars and replace coal, oil and gas with renewable energy - all widely regarded in Czechia as threats to one of the world's most industry-dependent economies.
This lack of enthusiasm for the climate agenda has been all the more conspicuous since Prague took over the six-month rotating EU presidency at the start of July. Even amid the push to wean the bloc off its dependence on Russian oil and gas, Fiala and his ministers are doing little to the make the case for the clean energy transition.
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