East EU States 'Must Decarbonise Faster': Bankwatch
European Union member states in central and eastern Europe must set more ambitious targets for renewable energy and energy efficiency and meet the objectives of the EU's 2018 Clean Energy Package, finds a new report by ethical investment pressure group Bankwatch.
The eight states only commit to the bare minimum to meet the bloc's long-term energy and climate commitments, the group said March 22 on the basis of its analysis of their national energy and climate plans.
Bankwatch said: "While the development of the NECP is a learning process, there is vast room for improvement. It is in everyone's interest that the final plans are more ambitious and more inclusive before the end of the year."
A grading of the NECPs from Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, Romania and Slovakia finds that "paltry targets for renewable energy and energy efficiency remain just above the bare minimum required by the EU. The analysis grades Latvia at the top of the table, with Bulgaria and Hungary's business as usual approach earning it the lowest marks.
The NECP was envisioned as a tool for states to plan their own targets for 2030 and explain how each would contribute to the bloc's targets for energy efficiency, renewable energy and a phase out of fossil fuels, while quantifying the investments needed to reach such objectives.
Some countries such as Romania and Slovakia envisage an uptake of renewables from 25% to just 27.9% and from 14% to just 20% respectively. Europe's most energy-intense economy, Bulgaria has limited potentials gains in energy efficiency, because the NECP is designed to subsidise energy prices. There is also an uptick in plans for nuclear energy or burning waste or biomass, which also raises different problems. Biomass as a fuel source threatens biodiversity and poses risks of deforestation in Poland, Slovakia and Estonia, it said.
It also criticises the greater use of gas, although if that displaces coal, then that would be a gain that Bankwatch has not commented on. It is not apparently going to replace all of Polish coal, which is retained in the mix, Bankwatch says; and the country is also going to develop nuclear energy. "But even in the most optimistic scenario the nuclear power plant will not go online before 2033, and its economic viability is questionable," says the report.