Serbia forges ahead with China-backed coal power plant

(China Dialogue, 6 Apr 2021) Kolubara B and other China-backed coal plants and mines are hindering Serbia’s progress away from fossil fuels.

A Serbian environmental NGO, the Renewables and Environmental Regulatory Institute (RERI), took legal action against the state-owned national electricity company EPS in January for exposing Serbians to toxic emissions from coal power plants.

“Our thermal power plants are among Europe’s biggest emitters of sulphur dioxide. In 2018 and 2019, ten of EPS’s thermal power plants emitted respectively six times more SO2 than the national limit,” said Hristina Vojvodić, RERI’s legal expert.

Back in 2006, Serbia ratified the Energy Community Treaty, whose mission is to extend the EU energy market to its southern and eastern neighbours. From 2018, the country was required to implement a National Emission Reduction Plan (NERP) to limit pollutants, mostly from coal-fired power plants. Energy Community members are also expected to work towards decarbonisation, accelerating the transition to cleaner energy sources.

But Serbia has instead continued to build and plan new coal plants and expanded a lignite mine. These are financed by Chinese state-to-state loans, built by Chinese companies, and have negative environmental impacts. By approving such loans, China undermines its pledge to combat climate change, and Serbia further delays its coal phase-out.

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China Dialogue, 6 Apr 2021: Serbia forges ahead with China-backed coal power plant