EU hopefuls up climate game in Western Balkans

28 February 2020 | Mitigation


Montenegro and North Macedonia have both pledged to cut emissions and put a price on pollution, as new initiatives in the two Western Balkan countries aim to align climate policies more and more with EU norms and standards.

EU candidate country Montenegro was praised on Monday (24 February) by the bloc’s energy watchdog for introducing new rules to limit greenhouse gases and a carbon market aimed at cleaning up heavy industry.

The legislation lists which operators will be included in the cap and trade scheme, how many pollution permits should be allocated and a minimum price per tonne of carbon dioxide, initially set at €24.

As of this week, the carbon price of the bloc’s emissions trading system (ETS) was around €25.

“Montenegro continues to lead the way in the establishment of a complete system required to reduce GHG, protect the ozone layer and adapt to climate change,” the Energy Community said in a statement.

The new rules also set up a stabilisation reserve, similar to the EU’s own mechanism, which will dictate how emission permits are allocated, transferred and used.

EU membership is dependent on a country securing candidate status from the bloc’s existing members and the successful completion of numerous ‘accession chapters’, which are designed to align legislation and institutions with how the EU does business.

Enlargement criteria are set to be tweaked by the European Commission but under the current system, Montenegro opened up chapter 27 on environment and climate change at the end of 2018.

Its government hopes that the new direction for climate policy will prompt industrial facilities to clean up their act, as most do not meet benchmarks set by the EU’s industrial emissions directive (IED).

Countries in the EU’s backyard and even further afield could find their hands forced on emissions-cutting measures. as Brussels has plans to deploy an anti-climate-dumping tool against imports that undercut the bloc’s green ambitions.

The so-called carbon border adjustment mechanism is being designed to prevent carbon leakage, where companies move manufacturing and production capacity outside of the EU’s regulatory reach to regions where environmental standards are less stringent.