“This is perhaps the last opportunity for our generation to reach an agreement on climate change and sustainable development in order to preserve the planet and the quality of life,” Vuk Jeremić, president of Center for International Relations and Sustainable Development (CIRSD), said at a public debate on climate change and energy in the residence of the ambassador of France. He added that Serbia remains a predominantly agriculture-based economy with weak infrastructure, and that another natural disaster similar to the May Floods of 2014 may annihilate the future for many generations, CIRSD published on its website. Jeremić, former president of the General Assembly of the United Nations and Serbian minister of foreign affairs, added there is a great deal of awareness among the countries of the Western Balkans to cooperate in the areas of energy, environmental protection and water management. With a coordinated set of development strategies amongst the region’s countries, the private sector would, in his view, better see opportunities to act. Jeremić stressed the significance of the current global negotiations round, set to finalize in in Paris at the 12-day COP 21 United Nations Climate Change Conference, starting on November 30.
Christine Moro, the ambassador of France, said joint efforts in fighting climate change cannot be nearly as effective as with the engagement of the public. “We need efforts of all citizens so that our governments can grasp the importance of climate change,” she said. It is up to the citizens to demand solutions for climate change mitigations from the authorities, Moro stated. Young people and even school children must realize that climate change isn’t just dangerous in general, but a threat to our lives and our children’s, the ambassador underscored. France, the host country of the final negotiating cycle COP21, has joined this collective effort because it, in Moro’s words, “represents a part of France’s universal mission, as well as part of a continued struggle for human rights in a broader sense.”
Vladimir Đurđević, a docent at Belgrade University’s Faculty of Physics, said that the main reason behind global warming and increased carbon dioxide emissions lies with the excessive use of fossil fuels. The scientific community has been aware of this problem for decades, but lacked a real connection with the decision-making structures, he was quoted in CIRSD’s report. Đurđević also remarked that if humanity continues with the “business-as-usual” approach, the consequences might not only be immense but irreversible.
Serbia’s decision to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, together with the timely adoption of European Union laws in the field of climate and energy, will help investments in the energy sector, improve energy supply security and lead to a transfer into a highly efficient and low-carbon economy, Michael Davenport, head of the Delegation of EU to Serbia, stated at the event.
While the EU keeps moving toward energy security and diversification, Serbia and its surrounding countries are doing everything in their power to maintain the status quo, said Ana Brnabić, vice president of the Managing Board of the National Alliance for Local Economic Development. Europe has been increasing utilization of renewable energy resources for the last two decades, she added. Serbia, on the other hand, has changed none of its energy producing methods for the last 30 years, Brnabić said.
Nikola Rajaković, Belgrade’s Electrical Engineering Faculty professor and former state secretary in the Ministry of Energy, said that Serbia generates two thirds of its electricity in thermal plants, while the remaining share comes from hydropower. The country hasn’t advanced much in using renewable energy sources in total consumption, especially wind, the expert underscores and adds that investors demand more state guarantees, most importantly for wind power purchasing. Getting permits and connecting to the grid isn’t well regulated, Rajaković claims.