Climate Change

COP26: Western Balkan leaders ask for funds, rules on how energy transition game is played, scrapping endless papers and strategies

Photo: UNclimatechange / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/legalcode

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November 4, 2021

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November 4, 2021

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Heads of state and government from the Western Balkans urged rich countries at the COP26 to show solidarity and help the region transition to cleaner energy sources. Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić said the financing conditions and the statuses of gas and nuclear energy are unclear. Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama asked for grants instead of loans and “endless studies and strategies.”

Here are the main messages that top officials from the countries of the Western Balkans delivered in speeches at the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP26 in Glasgow.

Albania’s pollution is imported

“How do the big polluters intend to help us, a non-polluter?” Prime Minister of Albania Edi Rama asked. He noted that his country’s energy production is based 100% on renewable sources but that it isn’t self-sufficient so that it must import energy and the related pollution.

Rama said Albania “could have taken all the lucrative offers for coal thermal plants” but that now “the biggest polluters also get the biggest chunks of money” that is supposed to help it address climate change.

“This financing must not come in the form of loans that entrap our countries in cycles of debt, but through grants that empower us to invest. And I hope the support will not continue to mean endless studies and strategies, which impact far less than it costs to pay people from rich countries to draft them,” he stated.

Western Balkan leaders funds rules energy transition endless papers strategies
Photo: Prime Minister’s Office

BiH needs substantial international assistance

Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Željko Komšić said his country’s energy transition would require “significant investment in low-carbon technologies and infrastructure” and “substantial international assistance in the areas of technology transfer and development of financial mechanisms to encourage decarbonization.”

The situation with climate action projects is the same, he stressed. “I would like to emphasize that within the development of the National Energy and Climate Plan, Bosnia and Herzegovina is also working on the development of a Coal Region Transition Road Map. Such transition of the coal regions and the entire energy sector in Bosnia and Herzegovina has to be fair. It must provide for the switch from coal to renewable energy sources without any loss of jobs,” Komšić said.

Montenegro calls for solidarity

The climate targets can be met if everyone respects the strict rules and if they are willing to “sacrifice the comfort” they are used to, according to President of Montenegro Milo Đukanović. He highlighted the need to “do it together with solidarity” and “multilateralism.”

Montenegro may boost its nationally determined contribution (NDC) to emissions reduction for the current decade to 40% in the next update from 35%, Đukanović claimed.

North Macedonia’s Pendarovski: Every country can do it

President of North Macedonia Stevo Pendarovski asserted that his country is aware that international financing would “depend on effective, functional and just governance at both the national and international levels.”

He underscored that the government targets a cut in emissions of 51% by 2030 from the 1990 level, translating to an 82% reduction in net emissions. “If a country with a GDP per capita below USD 6,000 is fully dedicated to achieving these ambitious pledges, then each state in the world can do it,” Pendarovski added in his speech.

COP26 Western Balkan leaders funds rules on energy transition endless strategies
Photo: Pretsedatel.mk

Clarify which energy sources are acceptable

President of Serbia Aleksandar Vučić said the representatives of big powers haven’t answered several questions yet. “Number one is: how are we going to finance all these activities? We’ve heard the story of trillions of dollars that are at our disposal. My question would be: what would be the interest rate, what would be the terms for taking these amounts of money, and actually how are we going to tackle that issue?” he stated.

COP26 Western Balkan leaders ask funds energy transition endless papers strategies
Photo: Presidency / Dimitrije Goll

The Serbian president pointed to controversies regarding the status of nuclear power plants and natural gas in the energy transition.

* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status and is in line with UNSCR 1244/99 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.
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