The main impact of climate change in the Danube-Carpathian region will not be so much rising temperatures but climate anomalies, with increasing frequency and severity of extreme weather events, including both droughts and flooding. Parts of Southern Hungary, Northern Serbia and Southern Romania are likely to experience desertification. Many areas, especially in Bulgaria, could experience severe water shortages.
Snow cover and the number of cold days will decrease, with far reaching consequences not only for the availability of water, but also winter tourism. Ski areas below 1,500 meters - including most ski areas across the region - will be unviable. Within the next decades, over a quarter of the species of flora and fauna in the region will likely face extinction.
WWF CLIMATE WORK AIMS AT
- Raising awareness and understanding of the problem of climate change and opportunities to reduce its scope and impact. In 2008, WWF launched the first awareness raising campaigns on climate change in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Serbia and Ukraine.
- Promoting urgent action to limit climate change to less than an average global temperature rise of 2° C by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. A priority for WWF is lobbying EU governments and Members of the European Parliament from the region to support progressive EU policies on climate change and energy.
- Promoting urgent action to adapt to the effects of climate change, especially by working with nature rather than against it, e.g. by protecting and strengthening the resilience of ecosystems such as forests, wetlands and grasslands.
CURRENT STATUS AND KEY DRIVER
- The CEE countries have a relatively low efficiency of energy use with a high dependence on nuclear, coal and oil and relatively low penetration of renewable energy sources.
- CEE countries are obligated to produce National Energy and Climate Plans (NECP), Long Term Decarbonization Strategies, and to allocate 30% of EU Funds.
PRESENT FOCUS OF THE WWF-CEE CLIMATE PROGRAMM
Problems where WWF will apply innovation pathways:
- Decarbonisation scenarios that maintain biodiversity values.
- Biodiversity safeguards for hydropower and biomass.
- Nature-based solutions for carbon sequestration.
- High levels of poverty and state-ownership of the energy sector limit political commitment to reach the EU’s goal of 55% emissions cuts by 2030 and net zero decarbonization by 2050.
- CEE countries are strong supporters of including criteria for nuclear and gas in the EU taxonomy as contributors to decarbonisation.
- Hydropower and biomass are leading sources of energy to meet targets for renewable energy, but have significant environmental problems and links to corruption.
WHAT HAS BEEN DONE
- WWF has had some success in influencing the national climate and resilience plans in Romania and Bulgaria, and has first models for a fair transition from coal to renewables.
- WWF was instrumental in developing guidelines for hydropower that have been adopted by all Danube countries. Through lobbying, campaigning and legal action WWF has prevented the most destructive hydropower projects.
- WWF collected data on the use of forest biomass for energy as a basis for policy advocacy.
- WWF has consolidated climate teams in Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and at regional level, and has a growing number of corporate partners that are committed to climate action.
WWF GOALS FOR THE NEXT DECADE:
- To bring CEE countries on track to net-zero GHG (Greenhouse Gas) emissions by 2050.
- To enforce Biodiversity safeguards for renewable energy.
- To make forest management standards promote naturalness for climate resilience.
- To support governments and private investors to favour Nature-based climate solutions.
HOW WILL WE DO IT?
THE WWF VISION FOR CLIMATE IN THE CEE REGION BY 2030:
- The revised National Energy & Climate Plans will have incorporated WWF´s sustainability criteria for the use of renewable energy technology while being ambitious enough to meet the 2050 climate targets.
- The use of firewood is on a downward trajectory as WWF will have leveraged support schemes for poor households to switch to efficient renewable energy heating systems.
- Thanks to WWF’s advocacy and field pilots, close-to-nature forest management will be recognized as an effective measure for adapting to climate change.
- Wetland restoration will be employed as a Nature-based Solution for flood and drought mitigation – the result of WWF's intensive engagement with public and private stakeholders and lighthouse projects in the Danube and Tisza floodplains that have provided evidence of their benefits and economic feasibility.
Funded by EU LIFE Programme Climate Governance and Information, the „Balancing solid biomass for climate neutrality in CEE countries” (LIFE BIO-BALANCE) overall objective is to support EU Member States to shift to a low-carbon and resilient economy by ensuring that solid biomass is produced and used sustainably at all levels. The project design was motivated by multiple negative trends which connected to the energy utilization of solid biomass, namely climate change, biodiversity, air pollution and energy poverty.