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Challenges of the Green Energy Transition in Serbia and Europe 

October 13, 2023 by BSC0


The aim of the panel titled “The Green Energy Transition in Serbia and Europe” was to discuss the issues related to lithium extraction as one of the key challenges that the EU and the rest of Europe are facing. The moderator of the panel was Stevan Vujasinović. 


Szymon Kardaś, Senior Policy Fellow within the European Power programme, European Council Foreign Relations, emphasised the importance of lithium as energy storage and pointed out that some projections expected the demand for lithium to increase 40-fold by 2040. He noted that 95% of the total production of lithium reserves is located in four countries (Australia, Chile, China, and Argentina). When it comes to the EU countries, the biggest deposit is located in Germany and the Czech Republic, and 1.3% of global lithium reserves are in Serbia. He highlighted three points in favour of lithium mining. First, the a need for political will, not only domestically, but will to cooperate externally. Second, the need to think about gaining the final “synergy effect”, and third, the need for cooperation to strengthen ties in Europe and inside the EU. He also added that Green Transition can only be successful if it is just, i.e. inclusive. 



When asked about the situation regarding Rio Tinto and sources of lithium in Serbia, Jovan Rajić, President of the Board of Directors, Renewables and Environmental Regulatory Institute (RERI), stressed that decisions related to this project needed to be considered in accordance with the best interests of citizens affected, and with Serbia’s national interests. He further explained the lack of communication and respect towards the interest of citizens, giving additional examples of the Ling Long factory in Zrenjanin and many others in Serbia. Rajić encouraged the development of communication between the official state organs and the public and urged the Government not to undermine the intelligence of the public as they did in the past.  



Johanna Sydow, head of the International Environmental Policy Division, Heinreich-Boll Foundation, explained that states were now seeking to be more independent from China regarding raw materials, one of the most important ones being lithium. She continued to point out that we will need to change our consumption pattern and invest more in public transport as we should not replace every fossil fuel-based car into an electric car. Mining always has irreversible environmental impacts and should be held at a minimum. 



Summing up, the moderator used the metaphor of the “pressure cooker” of energy transition that is galvanising the citizens, to explain that the pressure on the regulatory system can be relieved by introducing checks-and-balances (strong regulation), as well as international cooperation. 


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