РЕК Битола фото: ЕСм
РЕК Битола | Фото: ЕСМ

The economic investment plan for Western Balkan’s green transition weighs €9 billion. North Macedonia is part of the Western Balkan’s Green Agenda, a long-term green socioeconomic scenario that should give the region a sustainable future.

This country’s civic organizations are unanimous that the Green Agenda is our reality and future. It is clear that every backpedaling from the set goals not only distances us from these green development funds, but also from the possibility to accomplish the desired transition.

“At the moment, we don’t have the possibilities and the luxury to ask ourselves whether it is achievable or acceptable for us, but we have to start planning and acting. Every citizen has to see the Western Balkan’s Green Agenda, because it will allow us to see what the future brings,” Nevena Smilevska from “Eko svest” (Eco Consciousness) remarks.

The European Union is now accepting the Green Agreement, which means that the countries are ready for enormous changes that will lead to sustainable living. As a country which is seriously affected by the climate change and its influence, it is clear that Macedonia cannot perform the change alone.

“The prime question is how to start and where; we know we have to work on all the Green Agenda’s five pillars. If we think we have started something and we know in which direction we are moving in the field of decarbonization, in a circular economy, for e.g., we actually haven’t even started. The change will be huge, but lots of money have been allocated for the region, so if we start planning smart and we set the priorities, we can implement many solutions,” said Smilevska.

The civic sector urges for preparation of a National Plan for the Implementation of the Green Agenda, that will serve as a guidepost and will have to be incorporated in the domestic legislation. It is clear that the document will cover every aspect of people’s lives and the ways the society functions, and will pave the way for the future, starting from food production, transportation, and biodiversity, to water, air, and soil protection. The environmentalists consider clear deadlines and activities should be set, considering that most of the Action Plan, that was adopted at the Western Balkans EU Summit in October 2021, refers to activities until 2030, which is very near.

“The energy crisis is used as an excuse for putting out ideas such as the announcement of a new coal mine. It is only an example of how easy we can stray from the set direction and the green transition,” Smilevska pinpoints.

The Green Agenda has five pillars, decarbonization, circular economy, fighting pollution, sustainable food systems and rural areas and biodiversity that will allow the countries the possibility of opening new quality jobs, in line with nature and that will allow development in new directions. Decarbonization means the transfer of energy that hasn’t been produced from fossil fuels in the industry, the energy, and transportation sector. The removal of pollution means the renewal of all media – air, water, and soil, and a circular economy means recycling all resources that can be retained in the economy as long as possible instead of dumping them at a landfill where they will become a waste. At the same time, new resources will be dug out. The food sustainable systems and sustainable rural areas denote new approaches toward food production and the development of rural areas, while biodiversity and protection of ecosystems mean nature renewal.

The Ministry of Environment states that the country has a serious approach toward the Green Agenda, and the preparation for the National Contribution to the Paris Treaty, the third biannual report on climate change, and the long-term strategy for climate action and action plan, that were adopted last year is a proof of that. They stress that by adopting these documents, this country has set mid-term and long-term goals toward cutting greenhouse gases and adjusting the most vulnerable sectors.

“The long-term vision is to become a prosperous economy by 2050 with low carbon emissions that is following sustainable and climate resistant development paths, is improving the competitiveness and is promoting social cohesion through action against the climate change and its influences,” the Ministry explains.

The Ministry stressed that Macedonia is among the first countries in the region that is taking the first concrete steps and activities in response to the climate crisis. One of them is the introduction of the cross-border carbon tax in order to accelerate decarbonization, but also to avoid paying carbon tax for imports that the European Union plans to implement by 2026.

“North Macedonia is diversifying its supply sources, it’s investing in renewable sources of energy, it is preparing to build one of the biggest hydro power plants in the region, Chebren, and is creating conditions for private companies to invest in green energy. According to the new Law on Climate Change which is still in the works, North Macedonia plans to implement a price on carbon, primarily as a temporary solution, and then to adjust the law with the EU EGS’s rules by 2030,” informed the Ministry.