UN Climate Change Conference (COP26)

COP26 in Glasgow, a gathering of nearly 200 national delegations, ended in November. One would say a relatively successful one since the agreement that was eventually reached is to be implemented in order to achieve the goals that should lead to the climate change reduction.


For the first time, as the most important goal is set to reduce the use of fossil fuels, that are considered to be the most significant cause of climate change. However, many left it dissatisfied as they expected more to be done. The U.S. Envoy, John Kerry, tried to alleviate that anxiety.


“If it’s a good negotiation, all parties are uncomfortable. This has been a good negotiation, I believe” said Kerry following the approval of the Glasgow Climate Pact.


The Delegation of the EU was led by the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the Prime Minister of Slovenia, Janez Janša, representing the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the EU.

Speaking on behalf of the EU, together with President von der Leyen, President Charles Michel emphasized that humanity must act to stop global warming.

“Humanity has waged war against nature: we must stop. Plant Earth is our one and only home. We must cap global working at 1.5C. Time to act is now, together.“

Among the initiatives presented at COP26 are the Declaration on Forests and Land use on reducing deforestation by 2030, signed by more than 140 countries, as well as the initiative to reduce global methane emissions by 30% over the next 10 years, which was supported by over 100 countries. More than 40 countries pledged to abandon coal by 2040, and agreements were reached on providing aid for some coal-dependent countries and closing down funding for the construction of new thermal power plants abroad was agreed.

Officials and representatives from the Balkan countries, particularly from Serbia and BiH, once again expressed their usual concerns and problems, mainly pointing finger but also asking for social assistance from the developed countries, under the pretext that they are “producers of small emissions”. Chair of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Željko Komšić, stated that for the energy transition in BiH “significant international assistance will be needed in terms of technology transfer, establishing financial mechanisms to stimulate decarbonization, as well as financial support to climate projects tackling climate issues.”

By presenting their established Contributions to reduction of harmful greenhouse gas (NDC) emissions, countries announced their targes for reducing emissions in the next decade. The unconditional goal of BiH to reduce emissions in the new nationally determined contribution – NDC (without intensive international assistance) is only 12.8% compared to 2014, and 33.2% compared to 1990. The conditional goal (which refers to the goal supported by more intensive international support for decarbonization) that our country has set by 2030 is to reduce emissions by 17.5% compared to 2014 and 36.8% compared to 1990. However, all these numbers are just percentages that mean nothing to an average person. What do these figures really represent for saving the environment and how much do they specifically contribute to mitigating climate change and reducing harmful emissions, both globally and in our country? That is the right question, because one needs to bear in mind that the mentioned key strategic document for the reduction of harmful emissions still provides for the construction of new coal-fired thermal power plants that should replace the existing ones and to be operational in the next 40 years. Such planning is quite opposite to the commitment for decarbonization that has been endorsed to be implemented by 2050.

Bosnia and Herzegovina is in the process of transposition of the EU legislation in the field of air quality and climate change. There is a clear need for urgent amendments to the existing legislation and for introduction of new one, especially in the energy and climate change sectors. This particularly refers to the legislation relating to renewable energy sources and energy efficiency, as well as to the Law on Climate Change, given that BiH is one of the few countries in the region that has not yet adopted it. In the coming years, Bosnia and Herzegovina particularly needs to:

→ Implement a nationwide strategy for approximation of its legislation with the EU acquis relating to the environmental protection and to develop and adopt the Environmental Protection Strategy. Accordingly, it is necessary to improve the legal framework, strengthen administrative capacities and monitoring system, and to enhance inter-institutional coordination between all relevant bodies, following the commitments for the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans – the Declaration from Sofia and the goal of climate neutrality by 2050;

→  continue with the implementation of the Paris Agreement by establishing policies and measures to achieve an updated nationally determined contribution (NDC), adopt and implement a revised Climate Change Adaptation and Low Emission Development Strategy and adopt an integrated national energy and climate plan (NECP) in line with the Energy Community recommendation;

Within the specific goal “Adaptation to and implementation of the EU acquis”, in the climate change, energy efficiency and the environment sectors by 2020, establishing a national framework for the EU ETS (emissions trading system) is planned. This activity has not been implemented. However, but by 2026 at the latest, some form of carbon taxation will have to be introduced in BiH, such as emissions trading, due to the introduction of a cross-border CO2 taxation mechanism for countries outside the EU/ETS system. In addition, the greenhouse gas emissions data system, i.e., gathering and processing of data has not been defined nor regulated, nor the quality insurance and control of input data. All this calls into question even the current inventory of greenhouse gas emissions that BiH cites in its national reports.

So, what do the current climate change negotiations mean for our country and how will the Glasgow deal reflect on our green policy? The fact is that in the next decade all countries, including BiH, will be obliged to intensify reporting and revise climate goas, implement plans and strategies for mitigation of and adaptation climate change. What is crucial to us at this moment is the encouraging fact that over 76% of all coal-related projects are definitely being suspended, and over 84 countries are opting for a coal-free future – something that has been recognized for the first time and emphasized in this year’s climate negotiations and something that will certainly strongly reflect on energy present and future of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The Conference was hosted by the United Kingdom, which also chaired the COP26, together with Italy. Although it was originally planned to be held in 2020, it was postponed for a year later due to COVID-19 pandemic.