NEWS AND EVENTS

Energy for the Long Run – Support the action by signing the petition!

On September 7, the SEE SEP network of organizations started an online petition dedicated to advocating a better energy future for all of the citizens in South East Europe.

18 organizations from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo*, Macedonia**, Montenegro and Serbia, with the technical support of Friends of the Earth Europe, who provided the multilingual platform for the petition, are demanding a fairer, cleaner and more efficient energy system.

The energy system currently existing in South East Europe is corrupt, dirty and inefficient: the evidence is overwhelming.

This October 16th, the ministers of the region who are in charge of energy policies will meet in Tirana, Albania to agree the reform of the Energy Community that all the countries of the region are members of.

We are urging the governments of South East Europe and the European Commission to do what they can, and should do, immediately:

● Invest much more in energy efficiency in homes, which will help citizens reduce their energy bills!

● Clean up the corrupt energy systems by ensuring investigation and prosecution in corruption cases, which will encourage responsible new investors!

● Adopt and fulfil EU climate goals and targets now, with EU funding and support!

One thing should be clear though – even if there was no EU pathway – any right thinking government that wants to do the best for its people, their health and the economy, would take these actions without delay.

The petition will be delivered to the Ministerial Council of the Energy Community on October 16 in Tirana, Albania!

Support the action by signing the petition and feel free to share if further!

More information is available below.

 

Corrupt
High-level corruption and weak institutions are serious obstacles on the path to the sustainable energy future of South East Europe (SEE). According to the EU, a priority for the region should be “reforming public administration and strengthening of democratic institutions, which remain weak in most enlargement countries, with limited administrative capacity, high level of politicization and a lack of transparency” [1]. According to the RCC Balkan Opinion Barometer [2], 74%, or three quarters of SEE citizens surveyed, do not agree that the government fights corruption effectively. A recent report on high-level corruption in the energy sector, titled Winners and Losers: Who Benefits from High Level Corruption in the South East Europe Energy Sector?, confirms these alarming perceptions.

Dirty
The energy systems of South East Europe remain dirty because of the predominant use of low-quality and inefficient lignite, with emissions from thermal power plants causing harm not only to citizens’ health, but also contributing to the dangerous effects of climate change. For example, the avoidable health cost of dirty coal in just three countries of the region (Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina) is 6.5 billion EUR, according to the report Time to Phase Out Dirty Coal: The Hidden Cost We Can Avoid. According to the data from the latest report Economic cost of the health impact of air pollution in Europe by the World Health Organization, the SEE region is spending the average of 30 billion EUR (19% of its GDP) [3] on the economic cost of deaths from air pollution. Ironically, according to the RCC Balkan Opinion Barometer, environment protection is important for a vast majority (94%) of the citizens of SEE, while 51% feel that the governments should enforce stricter laws and regulations to protect the environment.

Inefficient
Despite the estimate that it is between 1,000 and 10,000 times more cost effective to save a unit of energy than to generate a new unit [4], the energy systems of South East Europe are still extremely inefficient. The recent study on energy efficiency Energy Community – Tapping on its Energy Efficiency Potential showed that a large majority of funding allocated for energy efficiency, over 500 million EUR, remains under-utilised due to the lack of appropriate delivery mechanisms to link the local energy efficiency projects with the available financing. The same study stated that “buildings are a sector with significant potential in the Western Balkans – representing up to 50% of total energy consumption and with an estimated potential for energy savings between 20 and 40%” [5]. Potential yield of energy savings from public and private buildings would be 805 million EUR by 2020; and this does not include savings due to reduced pollution [6].

European Union Financing
Poorer EU countries will be given profits from the sale of carbon emissions allowances to modernize their energy infrastructure, in return for backing a binding 40% greenhouse gas reduction target.

The new modernization fund is a part of a series of reforms to the Emissions Trading System (ETS) announced on July 15th in Brussels.

The reforms, which include a second fund that will boost innovation in renewables, must be backed by the European Parliament and Council of Ministers before becoming law and coming into effect between 2021 and 2030.

The countries that will benefit from the new fund are Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia. All had a GDP per capita of less than 60% the EU average in 2013. Based on this, we want a complimentary fund that would finance climate action outside of the European Union, including the South East Europe countries who are in accession negotiations and who commit to the 2030 40% target of greenhouse gas reduction.

What is the Energy Community?

The Energy Community is an organization set up to help the countries of the Western Balkans and the Black Sea region adopt and implement existing EU energy and environmental legislation and is governed by its own legal framework [7]. The reform of the Energy Community Treaty has been an ongoing process, with CSOs of the region asking for stronger enforcement of existing obligations as well as strengthening the Treaty’s environmental and climate components.

The Ministerial Council is the highest decision-making body of the Energy Community and comprises of ministers in charge of energy policies from the Contracting Parties [8] (meaning country members) and representatives of the European Union. They will be having their 13th meeting on October 16 in Tirana, Albania, where they will discuss potential changes to the Energy Community Treaty and the implementation of the EU legislation.

Why have we chosen these 3 demands?
After extensive work in the region, we are convinced that these 3 issues are the main ones preventing the transformation to an energy-efficient, renewable-energy based economy. This is our chance to send a message to the ministers of the region and the EU and to urge them to fulfil our demands:

1. To increase investment in energy efficiency and thus, in long term, help save energy and decrease energy bills;
2. To eliminate corruption and lack of transparency in the energy sector;
3. To adopt EU 2020, 2030 and 2050 climate goals and targets [9], since every country that is on the path to EU must do so as a part of the accession process.

 

 

[1] www.europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-14-1100_en.htm

[2] The study included 7000 citizens from seven South East Europe economies – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo*, Macedonia**, Montenegro and Serbia.

[3] http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/276956/PR_Economics-Annex_en.pdf?ua=1

[4] Report “Invest in Haste, Repent at Leisure”: http://seechangenetwork.org/invest-in-haste-repent-at-leisure/

[5] World Bank, Establishing and Operationalizing an Energy Efficiency Revolving Fund, quoted in report Energy Community – Tapping on its Energy Efficiency Potential: https://www.energy-community.org/portal/page/portal/ENC_HOME/DOCS/3750146/EnC_EE_Publication.pdf

[6] Report Energy Community – Tapping on its Energy Efficiency Potential: https://www.energy-community.org/portal/page/portal/ENC_HOME/DOCS/3750146/EnC_EE_Publication.pdf

[7] https://www.energy-community.org/portal/page/portal/ENC_HOME/ENERGY_COMMUNITY/Legal

[8] Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia and Ukraine.

[9] EU Member States have committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 20 percent compared to 1990. The EU as a whole has committed to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% by 2030 and 80-95% compared to 1990 levels by 2050.

*According to the UN, Kosovo is “under the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) established pursuant to Security Council Resolution 1244”.
**According to the UN, the official name for Macedonia is “The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”.