South East Europe: The EU Road or the Road to Nowhere? An energy roadmap for 2050: A guide to the future
The Paris Agreement aims to limit global temperature rise to well below 2°C, while pursuing efforts to keep below 1.5°C. The UN member countries of South East Europe – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia – have pledged to join the rest of the international community in reducing their greenhouse-gas emissions as soon and as ambitiously as possible. The countries of the region are also committed to meeting European Union targets on renewable energy, energy efficiency and greenhouse-gas emissions reductions.
Unfortunately, energy policy in the region is not keeping up with these aspirations. Current plans for new coal and lignite plants will lock in carbon-intensive energy infrastructure for decades. This will take the countries of South East Europe further away from EU and UN goals, putting them at an economic, technological and political disadvantage. They will also exacerbate social and environmental disasters that are already unfolding far from the media headlines: from energy poverty, to many premature deaths from air pollution, to the impacts of climate change.
South East Europe needs a clear and ambitious energy vision that will shape policy, guide investment and inspire citizens across the region. To support this vision, SEE Change Net and SEE SEP partners have modelled two scenarios for the region:
● The “Road to Nowhere” – based on continued reliance on fossil fuels, with a heavy focus on new coal power stations, and unambitious efforts to tackle energy efficiency.
● The “EU road” – a pathway to a sustainable, efficient renewable energy system, enabling countries to meet their EU goals and international climate commitments.
Following the EU road will bring multiple environmental, social and economic benefits – including better air quality and more jobs. And taking the clean energy pathway – while, of course, a challenge – will not be more expensive than current proposals: in fact, countries are likely to save money as a result of improved energy efficiency and reduced pollution-related costs.
Over the next 10 years, almost 90% of the lignite-based energy infrastructure in the region is due to be closed or rehabilitated. Crucial decisions on how to replace this capacity need to be made urgently. With a development period of around 5-8 years, and a lifespan of 40-50 years, energy investments must be guided by clear long-term goals. South East Europe will lose its way and be left behind unless it adopts a consistent, forward-thinking strategy to guide long-term decision-making. The energy roadmap offers this vision.