CAN Europe calls Western Balkan leaders to set ambitious 2030 targets now and decarbonise by 2050

Europe in transition


Western Balkan states need to set clear and ambitious climate targets (and action plans) by 2030, in order to stay in line with the goals of limiting the temperature rise to 1.5°C as envisaged by the Paris Agreement. Regional leaders should honour their pledges made within the Sofia Declaration that sets to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. Otherwise environmental, social and financial challenges will soon become even more severe for the region.

Brussels, 5 July 2021 – In order to boost Europe wide efforts in combating climate change, CAN Europe released a set of recommendations and a discussion paper to help the Western Balkan (WB) countries set a clear and ambitious path to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The briefing aims to inform the process of setting 2030 targets in the Energy Community. The European Commission is expected to present an analysis on the 2030 targets  in autumn 2021 which will be discussed at  the Ministerial Council of the Energy Community in November. 

The paper shows that the region must significantly reduce emissions in the coming years, with ambitious policy frameworks and action plans for each country, if they are to achieve their 2050 climate neutrality goal. As signatories of the Paris Agreement and the Sofia Declaration, governments of the WB have put forth clear political pledges to contribute to limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius and achieve net zero emissions by 2050 respectively. 

Western Balkan GHG2030 Policy brief and Recommendations

In order to explore the possible targets in line with the commitments of the region towards climate neutrality by 2050 CAN Europe looked at two approaches – one is a more and one less ambitious plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The results of the study show that the Western Balkans countries are left with no corners to cut when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions reduction. Emissions from the energy sector in the region account, on average, for 74% of all greenhouse gas emissions. The main emitter being the outdated and inefficient coal thermal powered fleet – 16 coal plants in the WB pollute as much as the entire EU fleet of 250 units! Thus, while the decarbonisation of each greenhouse gas sector should be immediate, the most pressing is that of the energy sector. 

While Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina are planning new coal plants, the good news is that recently three out of five of the Western Balkans countries defaulted on their plans to build new coal generating capacities, namely the Kosova e Re project in Kosovo (500 MW), Pljevlja II in Montenegro (254 MW) and Oslomej in North Macedonia (129.5 MW). The trend should continue, ensuring an informed, inclusive and participatory process of coal affected communities.

Setting the 2030 targets will be a leading factor within the future energy transition in the Western Balkans. Thus, it is of vital importance to seize this moment and set the path towards the necessary ambition in order to be able to reach climate neutrality by 2050 in the Western Balkans, respect the Paris Agreement pledges and most importantly ensure a clean and healthy future.”  said Viktor Berishaj from CAN Europe.

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Methodology of the study:

A two model approach was applied: a) A linear emission reduction to reach climate neutrality by 2050. The linear approach provides the least ambitious pathway the countries should take towards setting the 2030 greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets; b) For comparison of the linear reduction ambition, we explore the share of the Western Balkans emissions on the global level in 2030, in line with the IPCC Special Report on 1.5.

Background context for WB6:

The six states of the Western Balkans (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia) are Contracting Parties of the Energy Community Treaty, the main driver of the energy transition in the region, setting the basis of a pan European energy market. The Secretariat of the Energy Community is currently facilitating the process of drafting the National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs) that will help each state to implement the 2030 targets. In addition, the countries are working on the so-called enhanced National Determined Contributions (NDCs), that should help to lower its greenhouse gas emissions according to the objectives of the Paris agreement, and limit global warming to 1.5C compared to pre industrial levels. 

CAN Europe aims to contribute to the process of setting climate and energy 2030 targets in the Energy Community, as the European Commission is developing a study on the region’s 2030 targets – the “Extension of the EU energy and climate modelling capacity to include the Energy Community and its nine Contracting Parties”, to be presented at the Ministerial Council in autumn 2021.

Download Press Release in Albanian, Macedonian, Montenegrin and Serbian at the bottom of the page



Maša Perović, Southeast Europe Communications Coordinator, Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe , +381 (0) 63 8411 566

Viktor Berishaj, Southeast Europe Climate and Energy Policy Coordinator, Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe (English, Albanian)


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