Large combustion plants in four contracting parties in the Western Balkans surpassed air pollution limits in 2018 and 2019, prompting the Energy Community Secretariat to start a process intended to bring them into compliance.
After issuing a warning last month, the Energy Community Secretariat launched dispute settlement procedures against Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, North Macedonia and Serbia for failing to meet the limits of air pollution emissions in 2018 and 2019. The ceilings in question were determined in national emission reduction plans or NERPs, instruments for compliance with the Large Combustion Plants Directive.
All four contracting parties have excessive sulfur dioxide emissions
Serbia breached the limit for sulfur dioxide while the infringement procedure for North Macedonia concerns sulfur dioxide and dust, also called particulate matter or PM. Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo* failed to meet the ceilings for both said pollutants and also nitrogen oxides, according to the announcement.
Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo* failed to meet the ceilings for sulfur dioxide, particulate matter and nitrogen oxides
Dispute settlement is a preliminary enforcement procedure against contracting parties, which can react to the allegation of non-compliance with Energy Community law within two months. In the meantime, the secretariat can establish the full background of the case. Interested parties may be granted access to the case file and may submit written observations during the preliminary procedure.
Breaches caused by coal power plants
Large combustion plants are facilities with a capacity of more than 50 MW. In the case of the four contracting parties, almost all the air pollution in the segment originates from lignite-fired thermal power plants.
The energy sector is one of the main contributors and it is responsible for high health and environmental costs and many premature deaths, the Energy Community Secretariat said earlier. It has been pointing to of breaches in most of the 16 large combustion plants in Serbia. The two desulfurization plants that were completed in thermal power plants in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina still aren’t operational, while two other projects are underway in EPS’s TENT division in Obrenovac and another one is planned for Kostolac.
Of note, Energy Community Secretariat Director Janez Kopač told Beta news agency that within three years the European Union may introduce the carbon border adjustment mechanism (CBAM), effectively a tax on carbon-dioxide for imports. The Sofia Declaration, signed by all Western Balkan countries in November, implies complete decarbonization by 2050, which means there would be no more coal-fired thermal power plants, he said.