Romania and Greece lead EU members in South Eastern Europe in climate action

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SOFIA (Bulgaria), April 28 (SeeNews) – European Union (EU) South Eastern European (SEE) member states generally support the European Green Deal, with Greece and Romania leading the region in terms of climate action, the European Council on External Relations (ECFR) said.

People in Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Romania and Slovenia mainly support climate action, but delays in adopting climate policies and the coronavirus crisis are slowing the implementation of the European Green Deal in some of these countries, according to a report. ECFR study carried out in January and February 2021 and published last week.

Public support for climate action is increasing in Bulgaria and the government is changing its once hesitant stance on the European Green Deal by committing to increase the use of natural gas by Bulgarian regions and by providing for the construction of new nuclear facilities and renewable energy, according to the study.

However, politicians have postponed discussions on modernizing the coal industry, although coal-fired electricity and heat generation currently accounts for over 90% of the greenhouse gas emissions of the Bulgarian energy industry.

Opposition to low-carbon industrial transformation typically comes from the fossil fuel and mining sectors, as well as from unions concerned about job losses. In addition, Bulgaria is dependent on Russia for almost all of its gas imports and most of its oil imports, which heightens Bulgaria’s uncertainty over the European Green Deal.

“Bulgarian businesses, media and government generally see the climate as another area in which the EU is interfering,” ECFR said.

The EU’s climate efforts have received a positive reception from the Croatian government, citizens and media and the government supports the European Green Deal, but the impact of the coronavirus crisis has marginalized the problem.

The country has supported the development of strategic energy projects and enterprises, mainly in the gas sector, and the diversification of energy supply has been a security priority for the Croatian government in recent years.

However, Croatia’s adoption and implementation of key climate-related policies has faced repeated delays and discrepancies between government department plans indicate deficits in institutional capacity and political will in public administration. Croatian, the study showed.

Greece supports the European Green Deal and regards the efforts to increase its use of renewable energy sources as an important objective, and the role of the EU as crucial in this regard. In addition, the country is raising its ambition on the climate, aiming to position itself as an international leader on the issue, noted the ECFR.

Measures to decarbonise the country sometimes spark a debate on the socio-economic consequences of the green transition, but Athens hopes that the transition will attract foreign investment and European funds as it sees the European Green Deal mainly from a point of view. economic.

In Romania, citizens are generally aware of the climate challenge and the government sees the European Green Deal as an opportunity to develop a more environmentally friendly economy. Although the government considers the EU to be playing an important and positive role in the issue, some political parties refer to “EU rules” for shutting down coal-fired power stations in areas where the livelihoods of people in depend, according to the study.

The Romanian government sees the expansion of nuclear energy and the exploitation of natural gas in the Black Sea as opportunities to improve its energy security and to become a relevant player at regional level while minimizing local risk factors .

Slovenia’s climate ambitions have waned since January 2020, when a center-right government replaced its center-left predecessor. The new government does not generally view the European Green Deal as an opportunity for economic recovery, but the country has worked to align its strategy with the EU’s plans to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, according to the study.

Slovenians approve of the EU’s climate targets, although slightly less than other EU citizens on average. They are wary of the prospect of rising electricity prices and slow progress in decarbonizing transport, which accounts for half of Slovenia’s greenhouse gas emissions.

“Slovenia could take a leadership role in the Western Balkans by firmly integrating the European Green Deal into the EU’s neighborhood and enlargement policies. Indeed, the country will become President of the Council of the EU in the second half of 2021, and has long expressed interest in renewing the momentum of the accession process in the region, ”said ECFR.



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