The Republic of North Macedonia is ready for more ambitious National contributions to climate change

Interview with PhD Teodora Obradovikj Grncharovska, UNFCCC Focal point and State Councilor in the Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning


2015 was a significant turning point for the climate agenda on international and national level. A new global agreement was adopted, the Paris Agreement. 2020 is the second turning point, as it marks the beginning of a crucial period of human development, called the "Decade of Action" and building a better world after the COVID pandemic.

KlimatskiPromeni: How much our country is ready to follow the international agenda for climate change and how do we support these efforts?

The Republic of North Macedonia, as a signatory to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, has agreed to provide information on its nationally determined contributions to the objectives of the Paris Agreement: to maintain a global average temperature rise below 2 ° C above pre-industrial levels, limit the rise to 1.5 ° C.

In August 2015, the country submitted the following contribution to the global effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions: "To reduce carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel combustion by 30%, or 36% at a higher level of ambition, by 2030 year (National Climate Change Contributions) from the energy supply, buildings and transport sectors.

By the end of 2020, the Republic of North Macedonia, after adoption by the Government, with the support of the Climate Promise initiative, should submit revised and improved national contributions based on the National Energy Strategy, the National Energy and Climate Plan (in preparation) and the Third Biennial Climate Change Report (TBUR) where the analysis has been extended to industry sectors; agriculture, forestry and other land uses; and waste. These documents additionally set the baseline for the long-term Strategy for Climate Action (in development).

The enhanced contribution to reducing climate change (to be delivered with the new national contributions) is to achieve a greenhouse gas emission reduction of 51% in 2030 compared to 1990. The estimated reduction will be achieved through the implementation of the Extended Mitigation Scenario - Additional Measures Scenario (e-WAM) ie. the adapted Green Scenario from the Energy Strategy which is enriched with policies and measures from three sectors: industry; agriculture, forestry and other land uses; and waste. The enhanced national contribution to climate change fully links the energy and climate sectors and is integrated into the draft Energy and Climate Plan.

The development of the integrated National Energy and Climate Plan of North Macedonia is intended to support the achievement of long-term goals of energy and climate policies, to reduce the administrative burden and to strengthen transparency, while promoting the security of investors in the region.

This integrated approach is in full correlation with the requirements of the European legislation in the area of ​​the energy and climate package and the guidelines of both the EU Green deal and Energy Community for decarbonization of economic development.

KlimatskiPromeni: The international community warns that ambitious action must be taken to address the global climate crisis and control global warming, as the window of opportunity shrinks rapidly. How many ambitious climate actions does the Republic of North Macedonia plan?

The commitment of the Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning is the continuous work in analyzing the potential for reducing greenhouse gas emissions translated into specific policies and actions. The enhanced NDC echoes the Green scenario from the National Strategy for Energy Development up to 2040 and is fully aligned with the draft National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP).  It is consistent with the following long term (2040) goals:

-              % reduction of GHG emissions vs. 2005: 61.5

-              % of RES in gross final energy consumption: 45

-              % reduction of primary and final energy consumption vs. BAU: 51.8 primary, 27.5 final

Along these goals, the mitigation potential of non-energy sectors has also been analyzed i.e. 63 mitigation policies and measures (PAMs) in the following sectors: Energy (incl: Energy Supply, Residential and Non-specified, Industry, Transport); Agriculture, Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF); Waste and Additional policies and measures (enablers of mitigation action). The mitigation potential disaggregated by sector is:

  • Energy: 66% reduction (mainly through decommissioning of coal-fired power plants Oslomej in 2021 and Bitola up to 2027)
  • IPPU: 45% increase
  • Agriculture: 29% reduction
  • LULUCF: 95% removals increase             
  • Waste: 21% reduction

resulting in 2030 with 51% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to 1990 levels, or 82% net emissions reduction.

The economic and environmental analyses (MAC curve) has estimated the total reduction in 2030 at 5.6 Tg CO2-eq (achievable if all the proposed PAMs are implemented as planned). 70% of the reduction can be achieved with negative costs (with PAMs of “win-win” type which are two thirds of all PAMs). Furthermore, additional 20% of the reduction can be realized by PAMs with specific costs in the range 0 - 5 €/t CO2-eq. Hence, there is relatively high mitigation potential which can be harnessed with cost-effective PAMs. This makes economic case of decarbonization pathway being cheaper than current policy pathway.

The investments needed for realization of the decarbonization scenario are estimated at 7.7% of the total average annual GDP. As indicated in the sectoral action plans, beside domestic investments, the country would count on international support (international funds, donors, banks) which will contribute towards adjusting the development pathway of the Republic of North Macedonia towards a low-carbon economy, enhancing further the decoupling of carbon emissions from economic growth and ensuring a decent level of real GDP per capita. Along with the international financial support, the country will also need assistance in the form of technology transfer and capacity building.

Social aspects of the PAMs are addressed by calculation of the newly created jobs, introduction of the gender indictors in some of the PAMs with an aim to make them gender-responsive, as well as by organization of a virtual youth consultation on the enhanced NDC, designed to ensure that the voices of young people are expressed in the NDC, that there will be broad ownership for the enhanced NDC goals and that baseline communication channels are established to ensure proper youth engagement in pursuing NDC goals.

Aiming at understanding the contribution of the enhanced NDC to the national SD agenda, the SCAN tool and the newly developed Q-SCAN tool were applied to identify and quantify their synergies and trade-offs. Figure 3 depicts the aggregated synergies and trade-offs of three sectors from the enhanced NDC -  Electricity & heat, Transport, Buildings. The pattern of the integral scores follows the pattern of the sector Electricity & Heat, which indicates that this sector is dominant in influencing the SDGs. The strongest synergies remain with SDG 8: Decent work and economic growth due to the new job opportunities in renewable energy deployment and in the construction and retrofit market; sustained economic growth, improved economic efficiency per unit of product and sustained support of entrepreneurship. The most significant trade-off is with the SDG 15 Life on land, due to the land requirements from renewable energy projects, potential forest degradation and potential river routes changes. However, the highest synergies are almost three times stronger than the highest trade-offs.

KlimatskiPromeni: What are the challenges in updating and implementing the National Climate Change Contributions, and what are the needs expected for additional resources in terms of finance, technology, human capacity, etc.?

Historically, there have been two stubborn capacity issues. First, the lack of a formalized institutional arrangement for the preparation of the state report on climate change to the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement, which also results from the lack of legally binding responsibilities of the institutions for monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) of activities related to climate change. (expressed through certain data)

We believe that we will overcome these challenges with the new law on climate action and the long-term climate action strategy (which are being drafted, with the support of the European Union through the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance), but noting that their adoption and implementation must be preceded by a professional and trained administrative apparatus with clearly defined responsibilities. In this regard, as already emphasized in several reports, it will be necessary to supplement existing or create new systematic jobs with clearly defined tasks and responsibilities, to work in various aspects of climate change, not only in the MoEPP, but also in other institutions. Continuous learning will be needed as European legislation in this area is constantly being amended, taking into account the fact that the European Union has taken on the role of a generator of change on a global scale.

As a future challenge remains the so-called climate marking of finances, ie defining the% of public finances that are allocated for various direct and indirectly related activities at the national level, related to climate issues.

KlimatskiPromeni: What would be the lessons learned and what would you suggest to your colleagues from other countries?

Rationalization of reporting obligations will require restructuring in many areas of society. On the other hand, meeting these commitments can be seen as a challenge for transformational change and an opportunity to introduce new approaches to policy planning, development and implementation.

Building a so-called climate- resilient society by ensuring lower carbon growth and development should be based on a synergistic approach and minimizing the negative consequences between general development policies and climate policies.

This means encouraging the increase of ambitions in each subsequent cycle of national contributions of states to the Paris Agreement by analyzing and proposing policies and measures whose implementation results in maximizing co-benefits (such as the potential for generating "green" jobs. , health benefits, etc.). Of course, the probability of success from the introduction of a new policy in the medium and long term, to a large extent depends on the acceptance and clarity of that policy, which means raising public awareness and involvement is an element that must be addressed in parallel with the aspects. of institutional and technical capacity building.

Similarly, development strategies and investment plans should integrate climate factors, ie. spatial planning and urban planning, as well as sectoral policies in the areas of energy (including transport), water management, agriculture, forests, biodiversity and nature, should be aimed at ensuring lower carbon growth and development and be adapted to the projected impacts of climate change.

This integrated approach requires adaptations in the systems of education, research and development. The analysis of the sub-goals of the goal 13 for climate change can identify gaps in the policies whose implementation would at the same time lead to the achievement of the goal 4 for quality education. In the national context, the integration of climate-related aspects into education and research and development policies has been shown to be a gap, but, at some point, it is an opportunity for the country to generate a basis for "wise" policy-making for lower carbon growth. and developing and building a society more resilient to future climate influences, where the science-policy-business community-public partnership is a key precondition.

You can read about how the national response to the Paris Climate Agreement can contribute to the country's development policies at the following link: https://klimatskipromeni.mk/article/429#/index/main

If you want to read more about the EU Green Agreement, you can do so at the following link: https://klimatskipromeni.mk/article/429#/index/main



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