Unprecedented rate of change in climate demands action in Central and Eastern Europe
“Whichever facts may be discussed, debated or distorted, we cannot ignore the reality that we must act or face frightening new impacts. We know that most of the pollution that causes climate change comes from burning fossil fuels. WWF calls on governments and investors to stop investing in dirty energy and start an immediate and just transition by investing in renewables,” says Samantha Smith, leader of WWF’s Global Climate & Energy Initiative.
“This is particularly true for Central and Eastern Europe, since the region is still heavily reliant on fossil fuels (coal and gas in particular) and fossil fuel-based investments are significantly supported by international finance institutions, governments and the EU - for example, the new gas interconnections between Romania and Bulgaria, Hungary and Slovakia and Hungary and Romania”, says Csaba Vaszko, Climate Change and Energy Programme Officer at WWF Hungary.
The share of renewable energy sources in the CEE region has not been increased seriously, although there is a huge potential including opportunities for grid extension so that the countries in the region could use each other's renewables.
“Unfortunately, sustainability principles are still not considered accordingly with hydro-electric power being built in the wrong places, biomass with unknown environmental implications is being used and risks exist of land use change for biofuels”, Vaszko adds.
While energy efficiency is an effective way to get quick wins on emissions reduction, governments in Central and Eastern Europe seem reluctant to touch upon this potential. And it is huge in the region – from residental heating to industrial power consumption reduction and from ageing power plants to transport. Central and Eastern European governments should also look carefully into feasibility of the new hydropower plants as low-flow periods on the Danube are likely to become longer and more frequent, WWF warns.