Czech PM urges EU to ditch Green Deal amid virus

File photo. Czech Republic's Prime Minister Andrej Babis arrives at the second day of a Special European Council summit in Brussels, Belgium, 21 February 2020. [Ian Langsdon/EPA/EFE]

The Czech premier, whose country depends on nuclear energy and coal, said Monday (16 March) the European Union should ditch its landmark green law seeking carbon neutrality as it battles the novel coronavirus.

“Europe should forget about the Green Deal now and focus on the coronavirus instead,” Prime Minister Andrej Babiš told reporters, without explaining how the two are connected.

“Europe is now the biggest epicentre of the coronavirus in the world,” the billionaire populist added.

The EU unveiled a draft of the Green Deal earlier this month, mandating members to achieve net zero greenhouse emissions by 2050.

But ex-communist EU members like the Czech Republic have announced much less ambitious plans as their energy sectors are still largely dependent on coal.

The Czech Republic has registered 344 cases of COVID-19, including three recovered patients. No one has died of the disease in the country of around 11 million people.

The Czech Republic recently closed its borders as well as schools, most shops and cultural facilities and restricted free movement.

Earlier Monday, the government sent a special military plane to China to collect coronavirus test kits, and Babiš said another seven planes should follow suit.

He praised China for its handling of the contagion.

“Now that the epidemic is nearly over in China, the country is once again the biggest producer of medical material and the entire planet is going shopping in China,” said Babiš.

“We really have a lot to learn from China.”

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