Balkan Green Foundation organized a discussion on Western Balkans and its climate ambition

Brussels, 22 November 2018 - Balkan Green Foundation in cooperation with the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung, E3G, Hosted by MEP Rebecca Harms and Benedek Javor, organized a discussion which was held in Brussels. The discussion will focus on: “Western Balkans and Ukraine: EU’s Role in Modernization through higher Climate Ambition”

The Executive Director of Balkan Green Foundation, Visar Azemi, stated that the Western Balkans are home to numerous coal-fired power plants and some of the highest levels of air pollution in Europe. “Current developments in the energy sector are leading to high carbon lock-in in the region, with even more coal-fired power plants and other fossil infrastructure still in the pipeline. Kosovo is considering the construction of a 500 megawatt power plant, units which will only continue Western Balkans’ heavy reliance on coal. The EU’s support should continue with a more proactive role to promote a greater energy market integration and support a low carbon transition in its neighbourhood.”

The discussion panel focused on the issues pertaining to Western Balkan countries and Ukraine facing a number of profound transformation challenges, where climate policy and energy sector reforms can be a key for progress. Further, it was mentioned that infrastructure is largely outdated and in urgent need of modernization; hence, global trends and the fight against climate require fast reform steps towards decarbonisation and cleaner production.

Further, during the discussion it was highlighted that national administrations often lack capacities for developing and implementing a consistent reform agenda under the difficult socio-economic circumstances. This discussion focused on detailing 'How can the EU set on its partnership with the region to better tap the potential offered by a just transition for improving living conditions and socio-economic perspectives for the people?'

Additionally, panelists also focused on the fact that even though renewables have become even more cost-effective with higher levels of grid interconnection, but political frictions inhibit progress on creating a regional energy market. Hence, the solution is to have an increased political will and funding for energy efficiency measures, which would contribute on reducing energy poverty in the region.

This discussion has as panel speakers representatives from Energy Community Secretariat, RES Foundation, Iryna Holovko – Ecoaction, European Commission, DG NEAR, Institute for Development Policy (INDEP), Center for Ecology and Energy, and Belgrade Open School.

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