Civil society organisations welcome the announced halt to plans for the new Kolubara B coal power plant in Serbia as a first step towards concrete action to start tackling air pollution, as well as decarbonising. They underline the need to support coal phaseout by integrated, timely and realistic plans, involving all affected and interested parties, and to ensure just energy transition. In that way, new jobs will be assured as well as a certain future for the citizens of Serbia.
News about stopping the construction of Kolubara B was reported in the media on Monday and has caused reactions from both the mining community and the Ministry of Mining and Energy on 24 May. The Ministry’s statement discusses the long term planning in view of 2050, indicating the energy transition planning, should be focused on phasing out dependency on fossil fuels as soon as possible, as already outlined by the regional CSO CEKOR .
“Planning for a just energy transition must involve all affected stakeholders, as well as experts, and ensure a coherent approach to ensure a successful and just energy transition. This is the only way that Serbia can achieve net zero emissions by 2050, which must be its main climate and energy aim” said Viktor Berishaj from Climate Action Network Europe.
Construction of the ill-fated Kolubara B project began in the 1980s and was interrupted in 1992. The project was resurrected again in 2012 when the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development briefly considered financing the project. In early 2020 a preliminary agreement for construction was signed with PowerChina but no permits have been issued yet.
“Considering Serbia’s heavy reliance on outdated and polluting coal power technology, that accounts for 50% of all thermal power plant greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the Western Balkans, the cancellation of Kolubara B is the bare minimum the Serbian Government could do. It must now also examine the feasibility of cancelling the Kostolac B3 plant. It may turn out cheaper to cancel it than to pay for carbon emission allowances”, explains Mirjana Jovanović from Belgrade Open School.
Greece has recently found itself in a similar position with its Ptolemaida V plant. While the plant was still under construction, Greece announced a coal phase-out by 2028 and the plant’s future is now under discussion.
“Coal is being phased out in our region, the rest of Europe and the world, and coal jobs will not be able to provide wellbeing for local communities in Serbia anymore. If realistic and timely plans for energy transition are not made very soon, Serbia will find itself locked into operating expensive coal plants that will only make the transition to green and clean energy more painful for the local communities, and the population as a whole” underlined Ms. Jovanović.
Maša Perović, Southeast Europe Communications Coordinator, CAN Europe firstname.lastname@example.org , +381 (0) 63 8411 566
Mirjana Jovanović, Energy, Climate and Environment Programme Manager, Belgrade Open School, email@example.com
Viktor Berishaj, Southeast Europe Climate and Energy Policy Coordinator, Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe Viktor@caneurope.org