The public consultation period of the revised National Plan for Energy and Climate Change (PNIESC) has been extended until March 15, 2024, the Ministry of Energy (ME) informed.
“Following the requests received during the public consultation related to the revised PNIESC project, in order to collect the proposals of all interested parties regarding it, the period for submitting comments and observations is extended until March 15, 2024,” the ministry reports.
At the same time, the Ministry of Energy will organize three public debates between February 15 and March 15 regarding the revised PNIESC project, based on the observations received during the public consultation period, respectively the recommendations of the European Commission.
The organizations Declic, Bankwatch, Greenpeace, WWF-Romania (World Wide Fund for Nature) and 2Celsius have accused the Minister of Energy of false public consultation in relation to the National Energy and Climate Change Plan (PNIESC), citing the fact that the institution put into public debate the project without announcing just before Christmas, with a deadline of January 21, 2024, and requested the extension of public consultations.
“Furthermore, the document was published on the website of the Ministry of Energy in the chapter ‘About us’ and not in the section dedicated to public transparency. This proves the lack of real interest of the Ministry of Energy in the opinion of civil society. To allow a correct analysis and detailed draft of the Integrated National Plan in the field of Energy and Climate Change, environmental organizations request the extension of public consultations. Such a request has also been sent to the Cabinet of Minister Sebastian Burduja. Consultations with civil society are extremely important, given the criticism brought by the Commission European regarding energy from renewable sources, where the target assumed by Romania through PNIESC is only 34% in gross final energy consumption until 2030. This target is below the 41% rate resulting from the formula in Annex II to Regulation (EU) 2018 /1999 on the governance of the energy union and climate actions,” reads a press release of environmental activists, quoted by Agerpres.
According to the quoted source, the Government has not proposed concrete measures to reduce the use of fossil gas and the gradual elimination of subsidies for fossil fuels.
“The trajectory towards which Romania is actually heading is to increase the amount of gas and oil used, which might not be compatible with the objectives of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. There is also a lack of information on how Romania plans to reduce energy poverty and encourage the just transition to an economy with low CO2 emissions, both from the perspective of concrete plans and financing,” the non-governmental organizations mentioned.
In their view, the member states of the European Union, including Romania, are obliged to establish “a multi-annual climate and energy dialogue […] in which local authorities, civil society organizations, the business community, investors and other relevant stakeholders , as well as the general public, to be able to actively participate and discuss the different scenarios targeted for energy and climate policies, including in the long term, and evaluate progress”.
In 2019, the Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee issued an Opinion to the European Union, which reiterated that public consultation processes should ensure, among other things, that: arrangements are transparent and fair; the necessary information is provided to the public; there are reasonable deadlines for consultation; the results of public participation are taken into account.
“However, the revised PNIESC does not meet these crucial criteria. The plan was published in a section of the Ministry of Energy’s website where announcements or administrative decisions are not usually published, and the announcement was not published in the mass media, so as indicated by the decisional transparency law. (…) In this case, the announcement was made in a single online publication, only once, contrary to the obligations provided by the legislation,” the NGOs claimed.
In this context, the environmental organizations requested the Ministry of Energy to organize a public debate to which all interested persons can have access.
At the end of November last year, the Minister of Energy, Sebastian Burduja, declared, at the Energy Cybersecurity Forum, organized in Cluj by Distribuție Energie Electrică Romania, that the institution he leads proposed an ambitious deadline, but not impossible, that in the spring (in 2024 – n. r.) Romania will have a National Energy Strategy and a chapter on cyber security in the energy sector.