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28 October 2019

Climate (un)ambition in South East Europe

A critical assessment of the draft national energy and climate plans

Climate (Un)ambition in South East Europe


The EU is currently paving the way to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Important instruments to achieve this are strong increases in the deployment of renewable energies, improved energy efficiency and the phase-out of fossil fuels. On the policy and planning level in the EU, the first step towards a climate neutral economy involves the creation of National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs), which cover the period from 2021 to 2030. By the end of 2019, each EU member state must submit a final version of their respective NECP to the European Commission. 

Our analysis assesses the ambitiousness and credibility of the NECPs of four South East European EU member states (Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece and Romania). The main conclusion is that so far, these four countries essentially fail to take an ambitious and integrated approach to energy and climate planning. Their NECPs show insufficient ambition regarding renewable energy development and advancing energy efficiency. The measures set forth for achieving the declared targets also appear to be inadequate.

All four countries do not project significant reductions in the use of coal for power generation during the 2020–2030 period and apply inconsistent approaches to carbon pricing. This casts doubt on the validity of their estimates regarding the deteriorating economics of fossil generation capacity. It also shows that the countries missed the chance so far to consult the neighbouring countries when preparing the NECPs, which would, inter alia, allow to spot inconsistencies and most importantly would facilitated an energy transition at least cost and maximum security of supply.

Rectifying the shortcomings in their revisions of the draft NECPs would allow governments to avoid stranded fossil assets, decrease reliance on imported fossil fuels and lower investment needs in fossil-fuel infrastructure. Finally, boosting regional cooperation as part of NECP preparation would maximise energy security and help ensure least-cost energy and climate planning.

Our analysis finally compares the procedures used by the governments to prepare their NECP drafts, and provides a number of recommendations for the countries as well as the European Commission for the finalization of the NECPs by the end of 2019.

The project "South East Europe Energy Transition Dialogue" is financed by the European Climate Initiative (EUKI). EUKI is a project financing instrument by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU).

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Bibliographical data

Sonja Risteska
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Publication date

28 October 2019

Suggested Citation
Agora Energiewende (2019): Climate (Un)ambition in South East Europe – A Critical Assessment of the Draft National Energy and Climate Plans
This publication was produced within the framework of the project Southeast Europe Energy Transition Dialogue.


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