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Policy mix will fail to tackle Balkan air pollution

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Significance

Monitoring detected an improvement in air quality, allowing the emergency measure against smog to be withdrawn. However, atmospheric pollution is a chronic problem in the Western Balkans (WB), a consequence of energy poverty following the end of communism. Levels of particulate matter (PM) rise every winter across urban areas because households burn wood rather than use expensive electricity and gas.

Impacts

  • Household dependence on spatial heating and energy underconsumption make investment in infrastructure and efficiency unfeasible.
  • High electricity prices and the resulting surge in the use of fuelwood will hinder the EU policy of decarbonisation through electrification.
  • The assumption that fuelwood is a renewable energy source will lead to a clash between decarbonisation targets and environmental standards.

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