EU Policy. Bulgaria and Poland to increase climate adaptation and just transition efforts, Commission says

Bulgarian coal miners and engery workers rally as they demand government guarantees for preserving their jobs, in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Bulgarian coal miners and engery workers rally as they demand government guarantees for preserving their jobs, in Sofia, Bulgaria. Copyright STR/Copyright 2018 The AP. All rights reserved.
Copyright STR/Copyright 2018 The AP. All rights reserved.
By Marta Pacheco
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Bulgaria and Poland's energy and climate plans still need to fill some gaps.


Bulgaria and Poland’s national energy and climate plans (NECPs) are insufficient to make a fair contribution towards EU efforts to limit global heating and ensure a socially fair transition towards a net-zero economy, according to an assessment by the European Commission.

The EU executive has been analysing draft energy and climate plans (NECPs) that member states are required to finalise by the end of June, setting out how they intend to comply with the bloc’s 2030 targets, including the overarching goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions to 55% below 1990 levels.

Warsaw and Sofia both missed the end-of-2023 deadline to submit their first drafts, which the European Commission has now concluded in recommendations published on 26 April were up to scratch.

For both countries, the EU executive found a lack of a clear analysis of the impacts of the green transition on employment, and insufficient measures to achieve a just transition away from fossil fuels, with coal a predominant source of energy in both countries. The Bulgarian and Polish draft plans also lacked an adequate analysis of vulnerability to climate change and potential risks to achieving the overall targets, the EU executive found.

By contrast, both countries scored positively on their plans for renewable energy deployment and measures to boost energy security.

NGO’s overview

A separate analysis published today (29 April) by the NGO collective Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe also criticises Bulgaria’s plan, identifying a need for more efforts to decarbonise buildings, and heating in particular.

The Bulgarian Environmental Association Za Zemiata spoke of a “largely insufficient” level of commitment to increasing energy efficiency, with Sofia targeting the renovation of only 20% of national building stock by 2050. The NGO calls for the inclusion of a ‘Net-Zero Government Initiative’ requiring public administration bodies to aim for climate neutrality.

The Polish-based Institute for Sustainable Development Foundation (ISD) urges the newly installed Tusk government to speed up the deployment of renewable energy sources in both the electricity and heating sectors. Other recommendations include a gradual end to the use of coal and gas use for heating, alongside a phase-out for the fossil fuels more broadly.

Christophe Jost, senior EU policy Officer at the NGO CEE Bankwatch Network, said  Poland's plan was a "big improvement" on earlier policy aims, especially on wind power, the electricity grid's modernisation and on tackling energy poverty, but expressed reservations over plans for gas.

"What’s particularly concerning is that Poland still intends to put focus on gas to replace coal, as a transitional fuel. We fear that expanding the infrastructures and diversifying imports will lock the countries in fossil fuels for years," Jost told Euronews.

The situation is similar in Bulgaria, he added, pointing to an envisaged increase in fossil gas consumption, with new investments in the transmission networks, domestic gas extraction, and the conversion of households to gas.

"That’s unwise considering the EU plans to ban fossil fuels boilers in homes by 2040, so consumers will need to switch and re-invest in their heating system," Jost noted.

All EU countries need to finalise their national energy and climate plans by June 30, taking into account the Commission’s recommendations.

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