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CAN Europe and HEAL urge EU Climate Commissioner on climate action in Western Balkans

Dear Commissioner Arias Cañete,

Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe and Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) are contacting you regarding the need to ensure appropriate climate action and implementation of the Paris Agreement in the Western Balkans, which will bring many benefits, including to people’s health in the region and beyond.

The countries of the Western Balkans are on the road towards joining the EU before 2030 while unfortunately their climate and energy policies are moving away from the necessary low-carbon transformation. This is evident from both their INDCs aand their energy strategies which include an increased use of coal and limited support for renewables and efficiency.

We are concerned that the continued reliance on coal power would not only undercut the necessary climate mitigation efforts, but also cause significant health costs to the people in the region and the whole of the EU. A recent report by HEAL demonstrates that coal power plants in the Western Balkans region cause up to 8.5 billion EUR in health costs annually from air pollution. The INDCs of Western Balkans countries largely envisage an actual increase of emissions compared to today. Many of them are also limited in scope, as countries struggle with greenhouse gas accounting. GHG inventories are being made under UNFCCC reporting system, whereas emission data from land-use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) are still largely missing.

Given the state of play on GHG accounting, it will be increasingly difficult for these countries to implement the Paris Agreement but also to move forward with the EU accession talks on climate and energy.

DG CLIMA has already recognised this need, and moved forward with an idea to have the Monitoring Mechanism Regulation (MMR) adopted and implemented through the Energy Community Treaty. This is an effective way to ensure that the whole region moves at the same pace. Without MMR in place, it will not be possible for these countries to improve their current INDCs. Moreover, without MMR, these countries will not be able to join the EU ETS nor have grounds for a level playing field in an integrated energy market with the EU.

It is both in the EU’s interest and responsibility to ensure that these potentially future member states start acting on climate immediately. Therefore we invite you to ensure that this file moves forward urgently, so that the MMR is adopted at the Energy Community Ministerial Council in Sarajevo on 14 October 2016.

In view of the public interest of this matter we intend to make the letter more widely known.

Last updated on 30 June 2016

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The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) is a leading European not-for-profit organisation addressing how the environment affects health in the European Union (EU). We demonstrate how policy changes can help protect health and enhance people’s quality of life. Read more »


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