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Slovakia on the path to carbon neutrality: What does it mean for you?

Do you remember a spring like this, where everything bloomed, only to freeze during morning frosts resulting in almost none or very poor harvest? Recall the summer with the scorched grass and we had to limit watering our gardens due to drought? Or an autumn that lasted just a few weeks instead of three months with hardly any rain? And those winters that were reduced to a few chilly weeks with slush instead of snow?

Climate change isn’t just news from other corners of the world anymore; it’s the reality we feel. Slovakia, along with other EU countries, has committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. It might sound like a sci-fi scenario. But don’t worry, it doesn’t have to mean drastic changes or flying cars. On the contrary, it could be an opportunity for a better and healthier country and society.

Slovenská verzia: Slovensko na ceste k uhlíkovej neutralite: Čo to znamená pre vás?

Just like in 2022, I recently again contributed to the updated version of the report “Low-Carbon Slovakia 2050, updated analysis of emission scenarios in the Slovak republic” (in Slovak only).  This report, published in January 2024, describes an updated scenario for achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 for the Slovak Republic. The analysis showed that the biggest “polluters” in Slovakia are the energy sector, transport and industry. Achieving carbon neutrality will require a transformation of these sectors and the introduction of low-emission technologies.


What are the reports about?
The reports provide scenario analysis for Slovakia, with a focus on achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. Its primary goal is to inform policymakers, businesses, and the public about potential pathways to reach net zero emissions. The original report published in 2022 contained three scenarios (WEM-with existing measures, WAM-with additional measures and ZEM-zero emission measures) and in the actual report we have updated the baseline and improved the scenario with zero emission measures (Scenario ZEM 2024). The new scenario ZEM 2024 combines climate-conscious behavior and government policies to minimize emissions. Through this approach, emissions could potentially decline to -0.42 MtCO2e by 2050.


Key points from the 2024 report
We already know that greenhouse gas emissions are driving climate change. To prevent further global warming, countries around the world must reach net zero emissions by 2050. This is challenging. We’re talking about massive transformations that need to happen across the entire economy. This applies to Slovakia as well, so let’s see what the journey to carbon neutrality of Slovakia in 2050 could entail. As part of the European Union, Slovakia has committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. This is a binding target. And it means that significant changes are required in all sectors, from buildings and transport to industry and agriculture.

Picture: Forecast of GHG emissions and carbon capture, all sectors, Slovakia, ZEM 2024 scenario

Picture: Forecast of GHG emissions and Sarbon capture, all secrors, Slovakia, ZEM 2024 scenario
Source: Low-Carbon Slovakia 2050, updated analysis of emission scenarios in the Slovak Republic.


To map out the potential pathways towards net zero emissions, the report utilizes an interactive tool called the 2050 Pathways Explorer. According to the current scenario, the ZEM 2024 scenario, Slovakia could achieve net negative emissions of -0.42 MtCO2e by 2050. Getting there won’t be easy. It’s going to require major policy measures, technological advancements and even lifestyle changes.


Sectoral pathways:

  • Industry (15.83 MtCO2e in 2021 -> 3.16 MtCO2e in 2050): Production in some industrial sectors is highly emission-intensive. The good news is that modern technologies and innovations can reduce emissions in the future while maintaining production levels. The largest percentage decrease can be achieved in the food, glass, woodworking, and paper industries, although the demand for energy will decrease only minimally.
  • Energy and Buildings (12.42 MtCO2e in 2021 -> 0.44 MtCO2e in 2050): Many emissions come from the production of electricity and heat and consumption in buildings. Imagine living in comfortable, insulated buildings that produce electricity and heat from renewable energy sources such as the sun, wind, and others. Moreover, the energy produced in these homes would far exceed the consumption of the home, and part of this produced energy would be supplied to other buildings.
  • Transport (7.4 MtCO2e in 2021 -> 0.11 MtCO2e in 2050): Dependence on cars is high, and the electrification of transport would contribute to reducing carbon emissions. However, cars are also responsible for emissions of fine particulate matter, which are dangerous to health. Therefore, the development of cycling infrastructure, the use of public transport, and especially the use of walking (for short distances) would significantly reduce emissions.
  • Agriculture (2.79 MtCO2e in 2021 -> 1.25 MtCO2e in 2050): Agriculture produces methane and nitrous oxide emissions from livestock and the use of fertilizers. Reducing emissions can be helped by supporting organic farming and sustainable agricultural practices, as well as increasing awareness of the impact of diet on the environment and promoting sustainable dietary habits.
  • Forestry and Land Use Change (-7.709 MtCO2e in 2021 -> MtCO2e in 2050): This sector offers a unique potential for carbon sequestration, which is the process of capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide. Activities that support carbon sequestration in AFOLU include afforestation and forest restoration, agroforestry, soil carbon sequestration, restoration of wetlands and peatlands, management of grasslands, biochar, and energy from biomass with capture and storage of carbon.


Impact of carbon neutrality
Achieving carbon neutrality will impact various areas – we can expect changes in transportation, energy, diet and consumption. Perhaps you will have a heat pump at home instead of a gas boiler. You might own an electric car and experience range anxiety. You might replace meat in your diet with other protein sources. You will likely buy mostly local seasonal foods and will have to be content with locally-grown and in season strawberries and tomatoes.

But imagine also better air quality in cities, quieter streets thanks to cyclists and modern vehicles. Imagine more greenery, comfortable public transport, fewer traffic jams and a healthier society. Imagine having control over the energy consumption (and costs) in your household thanks to smart digital systems. Imagine thriving farms and sustainable local businesses. Sounds good, right?

You may be wondering, if it will be expensive. It will be, but the investment is likely to pay off in the long term. Many energy-efficient solutions will be cost-effective for you as well. And many can receive subsidies.


What does it mean for you?
And perhaps you think that you alone can’t do much about something as big as carbon neutrality. The opposite is true.

  • Consider using walking, cycling or public transport for shorter distances instead of a car.
  • When choosing a new appliance, prioritize those that are more energy-efficient.
  • Insulating your home can not only save you money but also reduce energy consumption.
  • Choose local foods that have a smaller carbon footprint compared to imported products.
  • Avoid using disposable plastics and opt for reusable containers, bags, and bottles, which will reduce waste and the need for processing new materials.
  • Reduce meat consumption and consider increasing the proportion of plant-based foods in your diet, thereby contributing to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
  • If possible, choose an electricity or heating supplier that includes renewable sources in their portfolio to support green energy.
  • Minimize air travel and prefer alternative modes of transport such as trains or buses, which produce fewer emissions.
  • Support local and sustainable businesses by purchasing their products and services, thereby not only reducing emissions but also supporting the local economy.
  • Invest in smart home technologies such as thermostats, lighting, and appliances.
  • If you can control them remotely, you can effectively manage energy consumption in your household.


In summary, this report represents a comprehensive analysis of potential pathways to achieve carbon neutrality in Slovakia by 2050. We hope it will serve as a useful resource for all stakeholders, from policymakers and academics to industry professionals and the general public.  This journey requires cooperation from all stakeholders. Deep decarbonization will only be possible if we work together. The climate crisis demands swift and sweeping action on all fronts. The time for transformational change is now.


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