Joint Op-Ed on the Climate Action in Bosnia and Herzegovina by the Head of the Delegation of the European Union and EU Special Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina Ambassador Johann Sattler and the Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme in BiH Steliana Nedera
What is climate change? The unbearable heat we had some days ago, the rain and hail falling the day after, storms that are destroying entire settlements, the lack of snow in the winter season, more frequent wildfires, and weather records being shattered year after year. Climate change is a long-term shift in temperatures and weather patterns, which we can notice daily through extreme weather events.
Climate shifts can be natural, but there is no doubt that human activity is the cause of the current unprecedent and dangerous climate change. This is primarily due to the burning of fossil fuels (like coal, oil and gas), and our bio-industry that produces methane. All of these are heat-trapping gases. We all contribute to it with our lifestyles, by driving a car, by flying, by eating meat, by consuming electricity generated with coal, and the list goes on. This is not an easy realization, and even harder to turn around.
The urgency to act is paramount. The world is taking unprecedented collaborative action to start curbing the trends of climate change.
What is required is nothing less than a deep transformation of our economies and our lifestyles around the world. This transition must happen quickly – in the next 25 years – while remaining just and fair for all.
Doing nothing is not an option. Although its contribution to the global volumes of greenhouse gasses is relatively small, Bosnia and Herzegovina has an economy that is five times more energy-intense than in the EU share of greenhouse gas and could easily be much lower. BiH has signed up to the global Paris Climate Agreement, as well as EU’s Green Agenda. These climate goals were incorporated in its revised National Determined Contributions (NDC) which were adopted one year ago, committing to cut greenhouse gas emission by over one-third by 2030 and almost two-thirds by 2050 compared to emission levels in 1990. This is an ambitious but feasible goal. Implementation of these Climate Goals would make BiH better prepared to be a member of the European Union and would meet the targets of the national framework for the Sustainable Development Goals. Furthermore, with public and private action and support, the climate goals can accelerate the digital and the green economic growth.
Across the world, the green transition is happening at a rapid pace. In other countries, we have seen that such green transition creates jobs and growth. BiH’s economy cannot afford to lag behind.
Instead of just seeing the challenge, we need to see the gains if we take concrete actions. Better insulated houses and moving to heating solutions based on renewables and less polluting technologies gives citizens – but also to the private sector and public authorities – lower heating bills, cleaner air, lower operational costs, new jobs in the climate and energy-related industries.
Taking action on climate change requires systemic support for societal changes, for example, the parliamentary initiative to cut import taxes on electric vehicles. Indeed, the necessary technologies exist, and more are invented rapidly. The real challenge is to apply them.
We recognize that big investments and technical assistance are needed. Between now and 2030, approximately BAM 17 billion will be required to transition to green energy production. Policy and legislation will be required to support a transition from coal-fuelled power plants to cleaner energy sources, including, for example, through reforming the state-level law on electricity and natural gas and phasing out coal subsidies.
BiH’s natural resources make it uniquely placed and with the right vision and leadership, could run completely on sustainable energy – with enormous economic benefits! This cannot be achieved overnight but without action now, the transition will not kick off.
Just this week BiH took part in the annual UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn, where governments met after the COP26, to take stock of the implementation of the commitments made at the COP26 in Glasgow last November. Governments focused on the benefits of working together, not just the challenges and in that spirit discussed the preparations for the next conference – COP27 – in November 2022 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.
Bosnia and Herzegovina has the support of its partners to take climate action faster and at scale. Let’s work together now to make this transition to our sustainable future a success. We have the responsibility to ensure that future generations will live free from the fear of climate change and the terrible consequences it could bring.
It’s time to act now! Because we only have one planet.