Energy Security Unites Central and Eastern Europe

Photo by Viktor Kiryanov

Energy security and climate change brought together over 100 decision-makers, diplomats, experts, and journalists from across Central and Eastern Europe this week. The two-day conference, “Energy Security in Central and Eastern Europe. Together for Security and Climate,” was held in Warsaw on November 28-29.

The event was jointly organized by the Jagiellonian Club’s Centre for Analysis, the Conservative Environment Network from the UK, and the Poland from Nature Foundation. It created a platform for participants to exchange experiences and develop joint policy prescriptions for the region’s energy future, according to organizers.

The conference comes at a crucial time, as Europe heads into a second winter since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, said Frances Burwell, a distinguished fellow at the Atlantic Council. “Europe, including Central Europe, must make real changes in its energy mix and infrastructure,” she said. “As this conference demonstrates, Central Europe must cooperate to move away from any Russian energy source, but also to push forward with the Green Transition.”

The event, held a week before the COP28 climate summit, highlights Central Europe’s potential leadership on energy and climate, Burwell added.

John Flesher, deputy director of the UK’s Conservative Environment Network, said Russia’s manipulation of fossil fuel markets has threatened European security and driven up energy bills. By increasing renewable and nuclear energy, Europe can boost its resilience and self-sufficiency, he said.

The conference also focused on nuclear power cooperation. Lithuania has long experience in the nuclear sector, while Poland plans to significantly expand its nuclear capacity. Representatives from both countries shared their experiences on the advantages and risks.

Implementing the European Green Deal poses particular challenges for poorer Central European nations, said Juhan Parts, Estonia’s former prime minister. He warned that high electricity prices are threatening competitiveness. Wind and solar energy also cannot guarantee security of supply due to intermittency, Parts cautioned.

Conference co-organizer Paweł Musiałek, president of Poland’s Jagiellonian Club, agreed the Green Deal is testing the region. Central European cooperation is essential to coordinate energy and climate policies, he said.

Combating energy poverty was another key conference theme. A recent report found 10-20% of Poles are impacted, with 76% admitting to saving energy last winter. Effective public policies are needed to ensure a just transition, organizers stressed.

The conference concluded with leading regional organizations pledging closer cooperation on energy and climate policy. These include the Atlantic Council, Conservative Environment Network, Energy and Climate Policy and Innovation Council, Jagiellonian Club, Nowa Konfederacja, Warsaw Enterprise Institute, and Laudato si Movement.

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