Your Excellencies and Distinguished Guests
On behalf of the World Bank, I am honored to join you today at the Business Forum of the Three Seas Initiative.
Several recent and not-so-recent phenomena are accelerating the urgent need for a sustainable energy transition.
- First, more than 65% of total energy in the European Union is imported, which exposes the European economy and key sectors and households to fluctuations in the price of fossil fuels.
- Second, in the EU, the share of non-renewable energy products in total energy available is still almost 70%. The green transition requires monumental efforts (with concurrent opportunities) to truly transform our economies and societies.
- And on top of these man-made constraints, extreme climate-related events are happening with increased frequency across Europe and beyond, with often catastrophic impacts. As our Managing Director, Anna Bjerde, noted in remarks at the Summit yesterday, investments in renewables must triple to $ 1.3 trillion annually by 2030 in order to keep global temperature rise below 1.5 °C, and to ensure a sustainable and just energy transition.
The green transition is still the most important steppingstone to tackle the climate crisis and it takes regional initiatives such as the Three Seas to achieve sufficient scale for a course correction. Regional coordination, dialogue, and bold vision are critical, and I would like to thank again the Romanian Presidency and Government for their important efforts. I want to highlight three areas where regional coordination is essential for accelerating the energy transition:
1. First, we need to increase the efficiency and reliability of energy supply and consumption. We can do this by strengthening interconnectivity and integrating energy markets among countries, including those in this room today. This means:
- Strengthening distribution at the local level and modernizing transmission networks at the national and international level for transporting energy. Strong networks are pivotal for balancing the variability of renewable energy sources, like sun and wind.
- It also means improving energy efficiency, which will reduce energy consumption and ease pressure on electricity supply and networks.
- Finally, countries should undertake regional efforts to develop markets with homogeneous energy efficiency standards. This will increase market size and incentivize the development of a sustainable energy efficiency industry.
- All of these measures will be critical to attract private investment and scale up renewable energy and energy efficiency. Without private capital, and private capital at scale, our ability to achieve the green transition ambition will not be realized.
2. The second area where regional collaboration is critical is scaling up renewable energy technologies. One example of such technology is offshore wind which has potential to yield significant benefits for many countries in the region. Investments in offshore wind require scale and large markets to absorb elevated quantities of energy and make sense economically.
Beyond offshore, the development of more integrated and larger regional markets will help mitigate demand-side risks inherent to nascent technologies, like hydrogen.
3. Finally, I want to stress the importance of a Just Transition as the foundation for a sustainable green transition. The green transition will not succeed if it is at the expense of people and communities. Adequate safety nets will be important to protect the vulnerable. Decision makers need to create economic opportunities in the communities that are transitioning out of coal, enabling new jobs and systems to reskill affected workers, helping them migrate to greener sectors. The private sector plays a vital role in that transition.
At the World Bank, we are committed to working with our partners to advance the green transition in a way that ensures citizens and the environment are protected, emerging opportunities are utilized, and where cross-border collaboration fosters transformation at scale.
We deploy financial and technical assistance to help countries in the region unlock their green potential. We have done so in Romania by helping design the legal framework to enable offshore wind investment. In Bulgaria, we have supported the development of the country’s geothermal framework. In Poland, we support the scale-up of the country’s Clean Air Priority Program through an engagement that offers assistance and incentives to owners of single-family buildings that rely on old, polluting boilers to replace them with cleaner, more efficient installations, and get their houses insulated. And in the Western Balkans and Ukraine, we collaborated to create a platform in Support of Coal Regions in Transition.
We are fully committed to accelerating the energy transition in Europe, and we look to the Three Seas Initiative to help achieve scale.
Together we can make a difference. Thank you!