MPs from region facilitate energy transition with support of GIZ ORF-EE (part II)

The GIZ Open Regional Fund for South East Europe – Energy Efficiency (GIZ ORF-EE) has implemented a series of projects over the last eight years which have resulted in strong partnerships and cooperation with MPs from across the region. By supporting the work of parliamentarians through its regional collaboration, knowledge and experience exchange platform, GIZ ORF-EE, on behalf of German Government, has not only contributed to developing and adopting policies and laws to improve energy efficiency in the countries of the region, but also supported the countries in launching the energy transition process and changing their urban mobility paradigm.

We spoke with five MPs from the region and asked them about the cooperation with GIZ ORF-EE. In the second interview, following the success of the first one, you can read about the way MPs see their cooperation with the GIZ ORF-EE and national political schools, as well as their views on the status of energy transition processes in their respective countries. You have cooperated with GIZ ORF-EE and the Schools of Political Studies for several years. How much has their support to parliamentary processes contributed to the development and implementation of the policies in your country?

The support by GIZ ORF-EE and the Serbia School for Political Studies – Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence for the Energy Development Strategy of the Republic of Serbia until 2025 with projections to 2030, the development of the biomass sector, in overcoming legal hurdles and in financing in the renewable energy sector and energy efficiency and other matters was sustained, advisory and professional. Legislators in the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia used it as a foundation for the creation of better legal solutions and getting the attention of the public regarding these issues. In the past several years, GIZ ORF-EE’s contribution has been really big when it comes to climate and energy policies and the implementation in Serbia. To me personally, as the Chair of the Serbian Parliamentary Energy Policy Forum (PFEPS), and now also of the Committee on Finance, State Budget and Control of Public Spending, this support was valuable since it provided me with up to date knowledge in the field thus enabling me to actively participate in the legislative procedure.

Following the approval of the package of legislation on the energy sector, there is a need for continuous monitoring of the implementation, especially creation of a secondary package. The collaboration with the Albanian school – Academy of Political Studies, proved to be successful not only in capacity building of the MPs, but also in providing independent expertise for the implementation. The monitoring reports in 2017 and last year provided to the Committee by the academy were useful to exert parliamentary control over the subsequent drafting of the secondary regulations. Furthermore, the School facilitated communication and networking with non-governmental organizations and businesses in the renewable energy sector in order to identify challenges faced by investors and possible incentives that can be offered to them.

The school’s support is immeasurable in the joint considerations and in underscoring the significance of energy efficiency and other topics. As a parliamentarian, I have been involved mostly with economic issues for almost 12 years, including the eight years of chairing the Committee on Economy, Finance and Budget. The cooperation with GIZ and Montenegrin School of Political Studies led to the adoption of two good laws on energy efficiency and several consultative hearings in Parliament about energy efficiency. In the times to come, the focus should be on the implementation of laws and policies in the segment.

They are very devoted to these topics and their research and advocacy activities are complementary to our missions and the vision for a greener Western Balkans 6. Last month, the Macedonian School for Political Studie, the Center for Research and Policy Making, presented its White paper on the state of affairs in urban mobility in Skopje and Bitola as well as the challenges that pedestrians and bikers face in their daily commute. It was praised by all members of the Committee for Transport, Communications and the Environment. For example, we were very surprised when we heard that it is basically impossible to take your bike on board in Skopje buses, in the case of a storm. We will surely use the information from the White paper, especially when it comes to budget allocation regarding urban mobility, both on the national and local levels. We very surprised when we heard that it is basically impossible to take your bike on board in Skopje buses, in the case of a storm.

GIZ ORF-EE and the Prishtina Institute for Political Studies have helped us with concrete studies, by organizing roundtables and inviting energy experts. The assistance was very beneficial for the Parliamentary Committee on Economic Development, Infrastructure, Trade, Industry and Regional Development, where I served as the Chairperson, for reviewing legislation and overseeing governmental policies. What is the status of the energy transition in your country? Is the level of utilization of renewable energy and energy efficiency potential satisfactory? What are the major development plans until 2030?

Aleksandra Tomić:

The status of energy transition in Serbia is defined by Agenda 2030, which is being implemented by the Government of the Republic of Serbia, the National Assembly and all state institutions, in line with the European integration process and digitalization. There are also the discussions about Chapter 15 – energy, Chapter 21 – Trans-European networks, and Chapter 27 – environment, and the preparations in the whole society for the total transition, not just in energy. Serbia is specific in regional terms as during the last several years it had above-average growth of gross domestic product, investments and energy consumption, so the share of renewables in total consumption has been relatively reduced despite the constant increase in investments and generation. In the area of energy efficiency, Serbia is the most advanced in the region, both in the degree of applied regulations and in investments. Because of the relatively high consumption of power produced from coal, Serbia will in the next decade have to put in great effort and funds to enable as painless energy transition as possible. The challenges will be, as for the other states in the region and the world, to take up as little debt as it can for the implementation of this expensive process, but there are also discussions with unions, citizens and all other interested parties. The production of clean energy is becoming reality. Prices are decreasing and it is becoming a competitive, global and universal reality, which creates jobs. The energy transition warrants planning, money, persistence, patience and, above all, political consensus. The procedure brings also the space for investment and innovation, improvement in environmental protection and healthcare. It contributes to GDP growth and living standards. The production of clean energy is becoming reality. Prices are decreasing and it is becoming a competitive, global and universal reality, which creates jobs. It gives us, who are in politics, the case in point for the achievement of the political consensus.

Aleksandar Damjanović:

Due to its natural resources, Montenegro fulfills the objectives regarding the share of renewables in total consumption as it is abundant with hydro potential, which is currently sufficient for the determined goals. However, there are many challenges, having in mind the climate change trends, the need to overhaul the only existing thermal power plant and align it with the European standards, the controversies about the impact on the environment from the construction of small hydropower plants – surviving on nonmarket stimulus – and the unused potential of solar energy, which is getting cheaper and cheaper. Responsibilities include radical measures for limiting the use of electrical energy or coal in heating as well as oil and diesel fuel for passenger and cargo transport. As far as energy efficiency and its connection with the reduction of pollution in the environment are concerned, there are certainly many responsibilities. From a coherent implementation of the law, as its dynamics aren’t satisfactory, all the way to radical measures for limiting the use of electrical energy or coal in heating. Or, for instance, oil and diesel fuel for passenger and cargo transport, as in Montenegro they are used for the most part. There is a need for internal dialogue on energy priorities but also to strengthen the regional and international cooperation with regard to joint policy and concrete investment projects. The partner support from GIZ ORF-EE and the Schools for Political Studies remain an irreplaceable factor.

Liljana Zaturoska:

We stay committed to cooperation with the Energy Community. We have a huge potential in solar and wind resources. I will continue to support and monitor the developments when it comes to the expansion of the wind power plants in our country because, in my opinion, the utilization of capacity isn’t satisfactory.

Sala Berisha Shala: 

The current energy strategy foresees 2060 to be the year when Kosovo will become fully independent from coal power plants. Over 90% of the country’s energy is produced from coal. Despite this, Kosovo has adopted targets for energy efficiency and energy production from renewable sources to be achieved by 2020. Another option is to invest in renewable sources, efficiency and market liberalization and integration. Kosovo is currently integrating its energy strategy with the climate change strategy. The level of renewable energy utilization is currently not satisfactory. Hydropower plants have developed rapidly. Overall, the potential in renewable energy has not yet been fulfilled. Kosovo is currently integrating its energy strategy with the climate change strategy. By 2030, it will take on new and more ambitious targets for energy efficiency and renewable sources. Another process that is expected to be in focus is the promotion of microgenerators or self-consumption. These actors are expected to play a crucial role not only in boosting decentralized production but also in reducing energy demand.

Aleksandra Tomić, Chair of the Serbian Parliamentary Energy Policy Forum (PFEPS) and the Committee on Finance, State Budget and Control of Public Spending

Eduard Shalsi, until recently the Chair of the Parliamentary Committee on Production Activities, Trade and the Environment. He is the Minister of State for the Protection of Entrepreneurship but also an MP. 

Aleksandar Damjanović, member of the Parliament of Montenegro

Liljana Zaturoska, member of the Assembly of the Republic of North Macedonia heading the Committee for Transport, Communications and the Environment

Sala Berisha Shala, a member of the outgoing parliament in Kosovo. She headed the Committee on Economic Development, Infrastructure, Trade, Industry and Regional Development. The seats won at general election are yet to be verified.

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