Southern Europe’s top performers in tackling climate change
03 June 2021 | Mitigation
A report published by the European Council on Foreign Relations shows that Romania and Greece are amongst the region’s most active EU member states on climate change issues, writes Cristian Gherasim, Bucharest correspondent.
Efforts to increase the use of renewable energy have picked up in Greece, as well as plans to close down coal fueled power plants and continue with the green energy transition.
The economic downturn brought about by the COVID 19 pandemic might also have played a role in setting the agenda for Greece’s efforts to develop alternative means of energy. Greece is seeking to bring much need foreign investors and moving towards green energy might just be the way to do it. Greece is also aiming to position itself as a leader on the issue of climate action.
Another front runner in seeking green technologies is Romania which sees the much discussed European Green Deal as an opportunity to develop its economy and rely more on green energy as investors become more aware of the climate challenge issue.
In Romania as well, there have been lengthy debates about phasing out coal. Past month nation-wide controversy broke out when more than 100 miners in the Jiu Valley in Romania had barricaded themselves underground to protest unpaid wages.
The coal miners’ issue in Romania highlights a real national and European issue. Many country face issues making the transition to green energy with politicians from both sides of the aisle making the case for and against the move.
Then, Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans stepped in and said that there's no future for coal in Europe and Romania needs to leave coal behind. Timmermans heads the realization and implementation of the Green Deal and the directives that will ensure climate neutrality by 2050 in the EU.
Bulgaria on the other hand has committed to keep its coal sector for another 20-30 years, the report shows. The S-E European country is trying to catch up with the rest of EU in transitioning to greener alternative energy sources. Yet the report notes a significant shift in its attitude towards green technologies in the past years.
A notable example of an EU member state embracing a conservative approach towards climate strategy can be found in Slovenia.
Slovenia, the report notes, decreased its climate ambitions significantly once the new government took over in January 2020. The new government does not regard the European Green Deal as an economic opportunity for the country.
Unlike Slovenia, Croatia has been considerably more open to the European Green Deal. In Croatia, the EU’s climate efforts have generally had a positive reception from the government, citizens, and media outlets, but the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has marginalized the issue. Also, the adoption and implementation of key climate-related policies have faced repeated delays, according to the report.