The European Green Deal is an EU development strategy for the 21st century. Its central concern is the environment and climate change - how to make the EU's economy develop in a climate-friendly way. The Commission defines it as “a new growth strategy that aims to transform the EU into a fair and prosperous society, with a modern, resource-efficient and competitive economy where there are no net emissions of greenhouse gases in 2050 and where economic growth is decoupled from resource use”. The Commission promises “mainstreaming sustainability” into all policies, by adopting “a green oath: ‘do no harm’”.
Some of the main targets set by the European Green Deal concern greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). The EU’s climate ambition for 2030, with a 50-55% cut in greenhouse gas emissions GHG, is to replace the current 40% objective. The EU is to become climate neutral by 2050, which is the overarching objective of the European Green Deal.
This means that all policies at the EU level will have to be viewed through the prism of sustainability. How much natural resources are necessary? Could they be used more efficiently? What are the pollution levels stemming from planned activities? Can they be reduced? How are activities affecting communities and individuals? Are the cleaner new energy technologies we wish to promote leaving someone behind? What will happen to those EU citizens working in the existing energy industry? These are just some of the questions that the European Green Deal is set to help answer.
Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo are not EU members, but this new framework concerns them as well. EU diplomatic efforts will be mobilized in support of the European Green Deal. The Commission will propose to make respecting the Paris agreement an essential element for all future comprehensive trade agreements. There will also be a Green Agenda for the Western Balkans. One measure likely to attract attention – and controversy – is a proposal for a carbon border tax.
Below is a selection of articles and analyses which elaborate some of the key elements of the European Green Deal in the regional context of the Western Balkans.
The CoaIition 27 Shadow Report discusses how the EU accession process could provide a framework for positive change in environmental protection, renewable energy and development policies.
The report Chapter 27 in Serbia: Money talks is the 6th annual report that tackles important developments in the area of environmental protection and climate change in detail. This Coalition 27 report covers the period between March 2018 and February 2019 and as such it follows the annual report publication of the European Commission.
As part of the EU's wider agricultural strategy, a new action plan on the circular economy will be proposed, detailing how we could use fewer materials in production, and how products could be recycled and reused. Western Balkans countries are only now introducing comprehensive waste management systems, but in contrast to EU countries, in WB countries, an informal recycling industry has been operating for decades.
The European emissions trading scheme will be extended to the maritime sector, and the EU Emissions Trading System allowances allocated for free to airlines will be reduced. Electric vehicles will be further encouraged with an objective of deploying 1 million public charging points across Europe by 2025. Biofuels and hydrogen will be promoted in aviation, shipping and heavy duty road transport where electrification is currently not possible. Working on sustainable mobility plans locally has to be a part of these wider efforts.
In order to “leave no-one behind,” the Commission proposes a Just Transition Mechanism to help regions most heavily dependent on fossil fuels. The ambition is to mobilize €100 billion in funds to help the transition. In the Western Balkans, some alternative models of financing are already taking root.