The last five years were the warmest since records began in Europe, according to EU data. Climate change, embodied through heat waves, droughts and fires, is being witnessed by all of us, and its impact – on health, the environment and security – is not negligible.
From the aspect of climate change, Serbia belongs to one of the world’s hardest hit regions. Climate change is primarily characterised in our country by rising temperatures, but also changes in precipitation patterns, in terms of annual distribution and intensity, as well as increasingly frequent extreme temperature events and periods of extreme climatic conditions. The growth tendency of the average annual temperature in Serbia is higher than that of the average global temperature, which has been particularly noticeable in the period after 1980.
The ten warmest years since meteorological records began in Serbia have all come after 2000. Analyses show that we can expect the further breaking of temperature and precipitation records in the future.
For ethical and economic reasons, in order to secure further economic growth and insure the future of the planet, it is essential to limit temperature rises at the global level. It has been shown scientifically that it is necessary to limit the growth of the global average temperature to less than 2°C by the end of the century, compared to the level prior to the industrial revolution, while continuous global action is also necessary in order to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG). According to the analyses, if GHG emissions were to be stopped completely, their effect on climate change would still exist, and would last for decades.
THE GREATEST GLOBAL CHALLENGE
Combating climate change is currently the greatest global challenge, and every country is obliged to give its maximum to solve this problem. The leading organisation in this area is the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. However, the Convention may define the goal, but it doesn’t define the ways of achieving that goal. The Paris Agreement, which was adopted in 2015, defined obligations for all of the Convention’s member states regarding, among other things, reductions in GHG emissions for the 2020-2030 period. These obligations are based primarily on so-called Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, which Member States regularly submit to the Convention.
Unfortunately, it has been established that even if all of the goals set to date were implemented, that still wouldn’t be enough to limit the global temperature rise to the level of the scientifically defined maximum of 2°C compared to the pre-industrial revolution level.
Testifying to the importance of joint action in the fight against climate change is the fact that the Paris Agreement was adopted through the consensus of as many as 195 countries. This is a rare example in any area during the recent history of the world. The Conference of the States Parties to the Convention and Agreement should be held at the end of this year, when the most important decisions will be made, and Serbia has been assigned a great role and has the honour of being the meeting’s co-chair.
SERBIA HAS ADOPTED CLIMATE CHANGE LAW
The EU is today among the leaders in the struggle against climate change and is endeavouring to become the first climate-neutral continent in the future. Serbia, on the other hand, has the obligatory task of harmonising its legislation with EU regulations. With the adopting of the Law on Climate Change, Serbia has primarily confirmed its responsibility towards its citizens and the international community. However, perhaps even more importantly, it is supporting the development of our economic branches, which are sustaining major material damage. The total material damage caused by extreme climatic and weather conditions in Serbia since the year 2000 is estimated at around seven billion euros. And more than 70% of losses are linked to drought and high temperatures, while floods represented the other main cause of significant losses.
As a result of climate change, it can be expected that the agricultural sector alone will experience major losses if measures for adapting to altered climatic conditions are not applied, with yields of corn and wheat expected to be hardest hit by 2030.
The Law on Climate Change prescribes the development of a Programme for Adaptation to Changed Climatic Conditions, in order to identify their impact on sectors and systems and determine adaptation measures where necessary. In order for this programme to be significant to everyone, the Law stipulates that public policy documents in the worst effected sectors, as well as planning documents of the autonomous province and units of local self-government, must be prepared with consideration for the planned goals. The deadline for adoption is two years from the law’s entry into force.
With the adopting of the Law on Climate Change, Serbia has primarily confirmed its responsibility towards its citizens and the international community. However, perhaps even more importantly, it is supporting the development of our economic branches, which are sustaining major material damage
The adoption of the Law on Climate Change should primarily be viewed as a chance for development, green jobs and the emergence of new companies. The struggle against climate change should include everyone – citizens, the economy, non-governmental organisations and the scientific community. This law makes it possible to unify all actors towards the common goal of the green and clean economic development of the country, while it offers the chance for us to leave behind a more beautiful Serbia than the one we found to the generations that are yet to come. The adoption of this law enables us, as a society as a whole, for the first time, systemically, systematically and jointly, to get to grips with many decades of challenges in the struggle against climate change.
That’s why it’s important for us to see the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions as a chance for economic development, increasing competitiveness and attracting foreign investments. Reducing emissions will encourage modernisation and innovation in sectors that emit GHGs, such as energy, transport, industry, agriculture and waste management. That’s why one of the goals of the Law is to establish a system and the basis for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The law calls for the preparing of a Strategy for Low Carbon Development with an accompanying action plan. This strategy will be prepared by the relevant Ministry, in cooperation with other competent ministries and relevant state institutions and bodies, in order to determine the strategic direction of action and public policies related to the limiting of greenhouse gas emissions.
The Ministry of Environmental Protection is continuing to work on meeting obligations related to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Paris Agreement, through the preparing of regular periodical reports, i.e. revisions of the Nationally Determined Contributions, the submission of which is expected to come before the Glasgow Conference (COP 26).