21 JANUARY 2022.

POSITION PAPER

Proposal for the improvement of the implementation of energy efficiency measures and the use of renewable energy sources in Belgrade

Climate change is, without a doubt, a challenge that will define the 21st century. The average global temperature is already about 1.2 degrees Celsius higher than in the pre-industrial period, and the world is very close to exceeding the warming limit of 1.5 degrees, after which great consequences for the planet’s climate are expected. The sixth report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, published in August 2021, announced a “code red” for all humanity.

Cities are one of the main contributors to climate change and are responsible for 78% of global energy consumption and over 60% of total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Electricity consumption for heating and cooling of buildings and houses, as well as the use of different types of heating fuels, constitutes a significant share in these emissions.

According to the Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plan (SECAP) in 2015 the building sector (residential and public) had a share of 61% of the total energy consumption of the City of Belgrade, while buildings were responsible for as much as 79% of carbon dioxide emissions. In both cases, residential buildings were the dominant factor. The main reason is the fact that buildings are not energy efficient, and poor use of renewable energy sources, although the potential for it exists, which leads to the fact that households in Serbia consume almost 50% more energy than the average EU household.

On the other hand, the results of the Research  on the current state, needs and attitudes of the  citizens of the Republic of Serbia in the field of  energy efficiency and renewable energy  sources conducted by the Environment Improvement Centre and the association of citizens Klima 101 show that 43% of Belgrade citizens are interested in receiving subsidies for improving energy efficiency, while as many as 62.5% of citizens are interested in becoming a prosumer of electricity.

In the spring of 2021, there were significant changes at the legislative level. The Government of the Republic of Serbia has adopted the Law on Climate Change, as well as the Law on the Use of Renewable Energy  Sources and the Law on Energy Efficiency and Rational Use of Energy. The new legal framework allows for a significant acceleration of the implementation of measures aimed at increasing the use of renewable energy sources and mitigating climate change.

This year, the City of Belgrade also adopted the Green City Action Plan and Sustainable  Energy and Climate Action Plan (SECAP). The documents present the goal of the City of Belgrade to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 40% by 2030, in accordance with the obligations from the Covenant of Mayors.

Although the adoption of these planning documents is commendable and represents a solid foundation and a starting point for Belgrade’s path towards a more sustainable future with lower greenhouse gas emissions, we believe that the proposed measures need to be improved and that the City of Belgrade should strive for even more ambitious goals for reducing carbon dioxide emissions that would be in line with the new EU targets of a 55% emission reduction by the end of 2030.

The City of Belgrade, as the largest and wealthiest unit of local self-government in the Republic of Serbia, should be the initiator of the implementation of measures aimed at mitigating climate change and example to other cities and municipalities, as well as the private sector.

To improve the response of the City of Belgrade to the challenge of climate change and the necessary reduction of carbon dioxide emissions, we propose the following measures:

1. In the coming years, it is necessary to allocate more local budget funds for subsidy programs implemented by the Ministry of Mining and Energy in cooperation with local self-government in order to improve the energy efficiency of residential buildings, family houses, and apartments, installation of efficient biomass boilers, and installation of solar panels on roofs of family houses

In 2021, the Ministry of Mining and Energy announced a call for local self-government units in order to subsidize measures to improve energy efficiency and increase the use of renewable energy among citizens. The Ministry has set aside up to 10 million dinars for the energy efficiency call and 5 million dinars for solar energy call per unit of local self-government. According to the data presented on Serbian National Television on October 28, 2021, the interest of citizens in using the mentioned subsidies far exceeded the available funds. Due to insufficient funds, the City of Belgrade decided to conduct a call for the use of subsidies for improving energy efficiency, (JP 2/21) only in the municipality of Palilula.

In order to implement this and future measures as efficiently as possible, we believe that the City of Belgrade should do the following:

  1. In order to meet the demand of citizens for subsidies, the City of Belgrade should allocate more funds from its budget for programs initiated by the Ministry of Mining and Raska, Zrenjanin, and Leskovac have already done something similar.
  2. We believe that the City of Belgrade should establish an info center for all citizens interested in becoming beneficiaries of subsidies to simplify the application procedure and reduce administrative barriers that could potentially prevent individual citizens from

2. Greater utilization of the potential of roofs of public buildings for the use of solar energy

The roofs of public buildings owned by the City of Belgrade represent great potential for the installation of small solar power plants that can contribute to energy savings and reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

  1. We believe that one of the priorities of the City of Belgrade in the forthcoming period should be the utilization of this potential and investing in the installation of solar panels on all appropriate roofs of buildings owned by the City of Belgrade. In case the City of Belgrade does not have enough funds to use this potential and install small solar power plants on the roofs of buildings, the City should offer several roofs to citizens through public-private partnerships, through the concept of energy cooperatives, or to private investors.
  2. We propose that the Assembly of the City of Belgrade adopt a decision that will prescribe that all cases of construction of new public buildings or renovation and reconstruction of existing public buildings, must envision the installation of solar power plants on the roof of the building. A similar decision already exists in Serbia and was made by the Municipal Assembly of Vrbas in

3. Signing green electricity supply contracts for all buildings owned by the City of Belgrade

Electricity traders in Serbia provide an opportunity to sign a contract for the purchase of “green electricity”. The City of Belgrade should adopt a decision that all public buildings should sign contracts for the purchase of electricity that possesses a green certificate of origin. In this way, the City would influence the market from the demand side and set an example of good practice that should be followed by the private sector.

4.   Launching Belgrade’s “renovation wave”

Given the fact that 61% of energy consumption and as much as 79% of emissions in Belgrade come from the building sector, and that a large part of the housing stock and public buildings in Belgrade are energy inefficient, improving energy efficiency in the city should be one of the priorities for the city policy.

We believe that the city needs to set ambitious goals for the renovation of buildings similar to the “renovation wave” that has been launched in the European Union. The set goals should be clearly defined and measurable, e.g. the percentage of public and residential buildings that should be renovated each year, or the total area of renovated buildings.

Promoting this goal would focus public policies at the city level in the direction of improving energy efficiency, which would consequently reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and would indirectly lead to improved air quality in Belgrade. At the same time, this would provide a clear method for determining the success of the measures which were being implemented. That would in turn ease the use of the most effective public policies.

5. Supporting the improvement of energy efficiency in socially endangered households

In order to provide better and healthier heating for socially endangered households and at the same time cleaner air for other citizens of Belgrade, it is necessary that the City of Belgrade allocates budget funds to improve the energy efficiency of buildings and heating systems for socially endangered households that are not using the remote district heating system.

Funds allocated for this support must not be lower than the amount that the City of Belgrade is already spending every year in order to subsidize the district heating bills for a certain categories of households.

6. Establishing a working group for just energy transition

Thermal power plants, Nikola Tesla A and B and TPP Kolubara, as well as the Kolubara Mining Basin, which is one of the most important coal mines in the Republic of Serbia are all located on the territory of the City of Belgrade. For this reason, it is clear that the issue of the just energy transition is very relevant for Belgrade. Although decisions on energy transition are made at the highest state level, the consequences will be felt by employees in thermal power plants and coal mines. As they are all residents of Belgrade, it is necessary to think about these topics at the city and local levels to design and adopt appropriate decisions that will ensure that the energy transition is just.

For this purpose, we propose the establishment of a working group for energy transition at the level of the City of Belgrade, which would coordinate the measures that would be adopted to achieve a just energy transition. The working group should consist of representatives of relevant authorities, representatives of the most affected municipalities, representatives of employees in thermal power plants and coal mines, the business sector, as well as civil society organizations, and representatives of the academic community.

Position paper prepared by: Environment Improvement Centre and Association Klima101

Position paper supported by:

  • RES fondacija
  • Beogradska otvorena škola
  • Mladi istraživači Srbije
  • Beogradski fond za političku izuzetnost
  • Evropski pokret u Srbiji
  • Alternativa za bezbedne hemikalije
  • Inženjeri zaštite životne sredine
  • Centar za razvoj neformalnog obrazovanja građana (CRNOG)
  • Centar modernih veština
  • Svetska organizacija za prirodu
  • Jedan stepen Srbije
  • Mreža za klimatsku akciju Evrope
  • Udruženje Oaza
  • Pokret gorana
  • GM OPTIMIST
  • Ekogeneza
  • Dete – zaštitnik planete

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