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Climate change in the EBRD region

EBRD's energy-intensive region of operations | The EBRD's role and the Sustainable Energy Initiative | Climate change adaptation | Greenhouse gas emissions

Our countries of operations include some of the most energy-intensive economies in the world, and they have been severely affected by the economic crisis. Despite progress over the last 20 years, the region continues to present a wide range of unfulfilled opportunities to achieve substantial energy efficiency gains, in all sectors of the economy. Much of the region is also vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, such as water scarcity and extreme weather events.

Providing climate finance for energy efficiency, renewable energy, climate change mitigation, climate adaptation and carbon finance projects is therefore a key strategic issue for the EBRD, and it continues to contribute to shaping the Bank’s strategic approach.

Our energy-intensive region of operations

The transition region remains one of the most energy intensive – and energy wasteful – in the world. This is partially due to the region’s severe climate and economic structure, but it is exacerbated by a legacy of wasting energy in all sectors driven by energy-price subsidies and underinvestment.

Other factors contributing to this high-energy intensity include distorted energy prices, a general lack of energy efficiency regulations and standards, and the continued use of obsolete technologies. There is also a general lack of public awareness of the opportunities of energy efficiency and renewables.

The region’s economic growth capacity will continue to rely on energy-intensive industries, such as steel-making, and the key is to make these industries less demanding.

While some of the EBRD’s countries of operations also have a rich endowment of fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas, others are 100% dependent on energy imports, rendering them vulnerable to supply shocks and price increases.

Improvements in energy efficiency provide an opportunity to the region to mitigate its contribution to climate change, promote low-carbon growth and strengthen the transition region’s economic competitiveness and energy security. The potential gains are significant in all sectors of the economy, and they are key business drivers in the EBRD’s approach to increased investments to address climate change.

Energy efficiency has therefore risen rapidly to the top of the climate change agenda, since it is perceived as potentially the most effective way to reduce carbon emissions and increase energy security in the short to medium term. Only by investing in energy efficiency and renewable energy will countries in the region be able to fully decouple economic growth from rising carbon emissions.

The EBRD’s role and the Sustainable Energy Initiative (SEI)

To tackle this energy intensive legacy in the region, the EBRD has developed specific capacities in innovative energy efficiency and climate change mitigation financing.

In particular, the EBRD was the first international financial institution to establish a specialised energy efficiency team in 1994, and since then it has accumulated valuable expertise in generating and financing low-carbon projects. Since 2006, the EBRD is pursuing sustainable energy investments in the form of a strategic direction, through the Sustainable Energy Initiative (SEI). The initiative addresses climate change by developing specific projects with carbon reduction impacts in all sectors of the economy in the EBRD’s countries of operations.

Our transition and environmental mandate, as well as private sector orientation and knowledge of the region, have placed us in a unique position to assist our countries of operations transform from energy intensive to energy efficient economies. It also enables the Bank to contribute in a meaningful and practical manner to the global policy agenda, championing the private sector as an agent for change in the field of sustainable energy investments.

The SEI is strongly supported by donor governments and the EBRD Special Shareholder Fund.

Learn more about our Sustainable Energy Initiative

Climate change adaptation

As attention to the impacts of a changing climate grows, adaptation is becoming an important part of the climate change agenda. Some of our countries of operations are currently faced with a substantial threat from changes in climate, such as shifts in precipitation and temperature extremes, and an increase in the frequency and severity of extreme weather events such as floods. 

Along with all International Financial Institutions (IFIs), our challenge is to find ways to integrate climate change adaptation into the mainstream of our operations, and to innovate in the face of its impacts in our region.

We are taking a specific approach to adaptation, including improved knowledge of these issues in our region (particularly in the more vulnerable parts of our region such as south-eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia) and examining their implications in relation to our transition mandate and private sector focus.

We are examining how climate change risk management could be embedded into project appraisal, including environmental and social due diligence. This includes developing an approach for planning new and retrofitted infrastructure and other fixed assets to take account of climate risks. It may also encompass infrastructure and fixed assets in vulnerable areas, such as coastal zones subject to sea level rise or in areas suffering from water scarcity.

In 2009, the EBRD engaged a team of consultants to develop a series of adaptation case studies based on recent Bank-financed projects. The results were used to inform a careful assessment of risk management techniques and options that may be appropriate for the Bank to consider.

Some of our existing investment operations already contribute to adaptation responses in areas such as water infrastructure and water management, housing stock, power and energy, transport infrastructure, agriculture and agribusiness.

Greenhouse gas emissions

The EBRD region is a significant contributor to global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. After the United States and China, transition economies are among the highest greenhouse gas emitters, accounting for 13 per cent of the global total. Although emissions fell significantly in the 1990s due to the impact of economic restructuring, the region is now on an emissions growth path.

The EBRD assesses the change in annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that each year’s new investment portfolio signings are predicted to make once the projects are fully implemented. The results are published in our annual Sustainability Report. 

Learn more about our greenhouse gases assessments

Last updated 31 January 2012