Jasmina Jović, Assistant Minister In The Sector For Nature Protection And Climate Change, Ministry Of Environmental Protection:

Reduce Climate Change Impacts

The need to utilise renewable energy sources emerged after alarming warnings of the ramifications of using fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions as by-products of fossil fuel combustion, which leads to climatic changes, primarily global warming

These disorders are also felt in Serbia and we are witnessing very hot and dry summers, floods, increasingly frequent occurrences of hail storms etc. Serbia has high energy potential when it comes to renewable energy sources, but that potential is not sufficiently utilised. Solar and wind energy are virtually unused in Serbia.

Only three solar power plants have so far been constructed, in Kladovo, Bečej and Kikinda, and when it comes to wind energy, three wind farms have been built, in Alibunar, Kula and Vršac. The greatest interest, primarily among private investors, was expressed with regard to the energy of waterways and the construction of mini-hydro power plants. Locations for the construction of Small Hydro Power Plants (SHPP) were determined on the basis of the Cadastre for their construction way back in 1987, which determined 856 sites for the construction of SHPPs. The available potential of these 856 small hydropower plants amounts to just 4.7% of total electricity generation in Serbia. Unfortunately, the SHPPs so far constructed have caused complete devastation in the area, destroying certain strictly protected habitats and protected species, interrupting migratory routes and destroying special fish habitats, changing the hydrological regime etc. From the perspective of nature protection, the damage caused by the construction of MHPPs greatly exceeds the benefits obtained in terms of kilowatts of electricity.

Simultaneously, another problem requiring an urgent solution at the global level is that of climate change. Recognising the need to respond urgently, the international community adopted the 2015 Paris Agreement to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the primary objective of which is to limit rises in the global average temperature to significantly below 2°C by the end of the century, and thus it also set the goal of further reducing emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG), in order to keep the global average temperature rise to below 1.5°C. According to the decisions of the Convention and Agreement, the modalities, procedures and instructions necessary for monitoring the fulfilling of the Agreement’s objectives, as well as the long-term objectives, should be adopted by 2018 at the latest.

Serbia ratified the Paris Agreement in August 2017, with which it took on the obligation to reduce GHG emissions and submitted itself to the 2015 Convention. The aim of the Nationally determined contributions (NDC) to the reduction of GHG emissions document – to reduce GHG emissions by 9.8% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels – was primarily based on the aims of increasing use of renewable energy sources and energy efficiency as defined by the Energy Community Treaty, for which the Republic of Serbia has financial and other support available in the form of technology transfers, capacity building and similar.

In accordance with the obligations arising from the Agreement, the Ministry of Environmental Protection, as the body responsible for the area of climate change, launched a revision of the NDC within the framework of the process of developing the Strategy for Combating Climate Change with an Action Plan, which – through the implementation of an EU-funded project – should be completed by the end of 2018. The Strategy will determine the possibilities for reducing GHG emissions for the period until 2020, 2025, 2030, 2050, and the level of emissions by 2070, as well as identifying priority measures in the most vulnerable sectors (water resources, agriculture and forestry).

Monitoring the fulfilment of obligations linked to the Paris Agreement will be ensured by the Law on Climate Change, which introduces the obligation to monitor and report on GHG emissions and other information relevant to climate change

The issue of adapting to altered climatic conditions is of particular importance to the Republic of Serbia. In the 1960-2012 period, we observed an increase in daily temperatures with an average trend of 0.3°C per decade, so in the future it is possible to expect temperature increases ranging from 3.2-4°C by the end of the century, and a deficit in precipitation of up to 20 per cent. In the 2000-2015 period, total material damage caused by extreme climatic and weather conditions (drought, heatwaves and floods) exceeded €5 billion, while damage caused by forest fires in the 2000-2009 period was in excess of €300 million.

In order to ensure timely preparation and more efficient implementation of the Agreement, the Ministry, in cooperation with the UN Development Programme (UNDP), is implementing the project “Local Development Resistant to Climate Change”, which is financed with funds from the Global Environment Facility (GEF), and for the first time funds have been allocated from the national budget for climate change. This project aims to support local governments in planning, implementing and resolving innovative measures for reducing GHG emissions. This will contribute to achieving the national goals taken on by the Republic of Serbia, both through the signing and ratification of the Agreement, as well as through the EU accession process.

In principle, monitoring the fulfilment of obligations linked to the Paris Agreement will be ensured by the Law on Climate Change, which introduces the obligation to monitor and report on GHG emissions and other information relevant to climate change, including GHG projections, relevant policies and measures, GHG emission reduction strategies and adapting plans to altered climatic conditions and the like.

The Law on Climate Change and the Strategy on Combating Climate Change will provide the necessary framework for reducing GHG emissions and adapting to altered climatic conditions, and it remains for us to work together with all stakeholders (local self-governments, civil society organisations, the scientific and expert public etc.) to exert special efforts in order for all activities related to this field to become one of the key parameters of national and sectoral development planning.

From the aspect of fulfilling the obligations of reporting under the Convention, which have to date been identical with the obligations under the Agreement, it is significant that the First Report of the Republic of Serbia (First National Communication) was submitted to the Convention in 2010 and the Second in November 2017. The first biennial updated report of the Republic Serbia was submitted to the Convention in 2016. All of these documents were produced using funds of the Global Environment Fund (GEF). These documents provide an overview of the current situation in terms of the impact of climate change on sectors and systems, as well as necessary adaptation measures, GHG emissions levels and possible measures and activities to reduce them in the coming period.

It is also significant that it was decided at the Conference held in 2007 to introduce the principle of certain “checks” on the quality of reports submitted by the members of the Convention, and at the Conference held in 2010 it was decided to include in this process biennial updated reports from developing countries, including Serbia. The official name of this process is International Consultation and Analysis (ICA). ICA reports actually increase the transparency of GHG emission reduction activities undertaken by countries and presents the contribution of their effects to global GHG emissions in reports. In essence, the ICA’s goal is to improve the quality of upcoming reports and actions in the fight against global climate change.

The biennial updated report of the Republic of Serbia under the Convention passed technical analysis in 2016, as well as the public presentation of the document in the exchange of experiences and information during the Conference of the Country Parties to the Convention in 2017. The biennial updated report of the Republic of Serbia and presentation has been praised by numerous countries, including Austria, the U.S., India and others.