Democracy Digest: Friends of Zeman Benefit from Swanky Villas at Ridiculous Rents

The state of the Czech environment is among the worst in the EU, and inferior to all of its Visegrad peers, according to the 2023 Prosperity Index, published on Tuesday. High greenhouse gas emissions, poor efficiency, drought and rising volumes of waste helped push the Czech environment down into 22nd place out of the 27 member states. Industry is the biggest source of emissions, pumping out 1,932 kilograms for each of the country's 10 million inhabitants every year - the ninth highest ratio in the EU. Households also contribute a lot more than they might. Continued use of coal by both is a significant factor, with decarbonisation slow and solar panels and heat pumps rare. 3,200 people die each year from this air pollution. Energy efficiency is also poor, with Czechia among the bloc's most energy-intensive economies, using 50 per cent more energy per unit of GDP than Germany. Meanwhile, the average Czech threw out 570kg of waste last year, an increase of 63kg, and the country is the hardest hit by drought of any EU state with 16 per cent of its territory affected. Still, the ranking represented an improvement; Czechia was ranked 23rd last year. Slovakia did best out of the Visegrad Four in 2023, coming in 11th, while Hungary was 18th and Poland 20th. Sweden's environment was ranked the best, followed by Portugal and France. The three Baltic states, Slovenia and Austria were also in the top ten.

Hungarian Deputy Foreign Minister Levente Magyar (R) shakes hands with Ukrainian official on a visit to Transcarpathia Oblast, April 3, 2023. Photo: Twitter Will Orban visit Ukraine? US-Hungarian tensions on the rise

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