Progress in creating and adopting national energy and climate plans (NECPs) in the Western Balkan countries should be further accelerated to keep pace with climate neutrality goals, according to the analysis by CAN Europe. National plans must implement a more efficient climate and energy policy and measures that will ensure the path to the decarbonization of the region by 2050, a commitment made by the leaders of the Western Balkans. So far, only Albania and North Macedonia have submitted drafts and final versions of the NECP.
To mark the second anniversary of the Sofia Declaration, a new report by the Climate Action Network (CAN Europe) warned of limited progress in national climate and energy plans (NECPs) in the Western Balkans.
Leaders of all countries in the Western Balkans, in the Sofia Declaration, adopted on November 10, 2020, pledged to achieve climate neutrality by the middle of the century.
However, only Albania and North Macedonia have been able to submit the drafts and final versions of the NECP so far. But it needs better implementation of the cross-sectoral approach, the organization said.
Any further delay may jeopardize the promises of regional leaders to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by applying an effective policy, warns CAN Europe. This organization states that NECP is a ten-year plan that should be one of the practical tools in which the state shows how it will achieve its energy and climate goals for 2030.
CAN Europe assesses at what stage the NECP is in each Western Balkan country. The report highlights the need to progress and improve integrated energy and climate planning.
So far, only Albania and North Macedonia have adopted plans, while other countries are in different preparatory stages
So far, only Albania and North Macedonia have adopted the NECP. Other countries have started the process and are in various preparatory stages. Serbia published the draft plan in early August this year, but has not shown progress since the CAN said.
Serbia released the draft plan in early August this year but has made no progress since
According to the planned deadline, the first final NECPs were to be adopted by the end of 2020. The Energy Community Secretariat has postponed the date for the final submission of national plans until 30 June 2024. However, to ensure tangible results, the process needs to be accelerated immediately, said the report.
The Energy Community Ministerial Council is due to adopt national energy and climate targets for 2030 in December this year. According to CAN Europe, the new targets set a total reduction in greenhouse gas emissions to 60.9% below 1990 levels, and an increase in the share of renewable energy sources in gross final energy consumption to 31%.
To achieve this, NECP working groups established by each state as a contracting party to the Energy Community will need to improve climate policies and measures.
Albania’s draft plan missing crucial steps
In the case of Albania’s plan, there is a lack of ambition, especially in terms of reducing greenhouse gases. Concrete operationalization, ways of providing adequate financing, and time limits are missing for many of the envisaged policies and measures. The analysis points to the need to improve the public consultation process and to enable effective public participation in decision-making.
The analysis points to the need to improve the public consultation process
Although Albania does not rely on coal as a energy source, the revised NECP should provide a clear long-term path for phasing out all fossil fuels. Also, the plan needs to ensure that national economic growth is decoupled from the carbon emission process, according to CAN Europe.
More plan precision for North Macedonia
North Macedonia is considered a regional leader in climate action and has presented progressive climate and energy targets in its NECP. The coal phase-out date envisaged in the document is achievable if the revised NECP contains clear post-retirement plans for existing coal-powered plants, with an exact timeline and financial resources secured.
Gas developments are not reflected in emission calculations
Planned gas developments are not reflected in the emissions calculations within the plan, CAN Europe notes. Also, the revised NECP needs to integrate the findings of the environmental impact assessments.
NECP framework for investments
It is of utmost importance that the revised and new plans deal in greater detail with the regional energy aspects and climate planning.
The plans need to be developed in a coordinated approach, using the possibilities for cross-border and regional cooperation to its full potential, says Frosina Antonovska, Western Balkans Energy and Climate Policy Officer at CAN Europe.
Regional cooperation would significantly improve synergies and avoid duplication of capacities and infrastructure, Antonovska noted.
The plans represent 10-year integrated cross-sectoral plans, ensuring coordination across all government sectors. NECP ensures the timely involvement and participation of many other stakeholders, which should result in a level of planning that will facilitate public and private investments, said CAN Europe.
The Energy Community Secretariat issues recommendations on the content and structure of NECPs and the process of their adoption and revision.