This report examines the political economy of the energy transition in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), providing country-level insights into Bulgaria, Czechia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia. The authors use their political economy mapping methodology (PEMM) to examine trends in expanding renewable energy, using coal for energy production, planning for transitions, ensuring energy security, promoting energy efficiency, and responding to public concern for climate action. These insights inform the authors’ recommendations to support the European Green Deal and to accelerate the energy transition in the CEE.
The authors discuss the untapped potential of renewable energy in the CEE, detailing each country’s renewable energy plans and how improvements in energy efficiency could significantly reduce emissions in the region given the current energy-intensive state of their economies. They argue that domestically produced wind and solar energy could not only address air pollution but also help CEE countries achieve greater energy independence from Russia.
The authors discuss each country’s reliance on coal for energy production. While Slovakia, Hungary, and Czechia have recently decided to accelerate the transition away from coal, only Czechia and Slovakia have reportedly laid the foundation for a managed transition and developed transition strategies for their coal regions. The government of Hungary, as well as those of Bulgaria and Poland, has yet to plan for the transition of coal regions.
While public concern over climate change and other environmental issues such as air pollution is reportedly low in the CEE, it seems to be increasing in response to youth protests, extreme weather events, and energy access concerns. That said, the European Union remains the main driver of energy transition policies and funding in the CEE, and there have been recent tensions between the European Union and some CEE member states regarding climate plans. The authors conclude by providing recommendations on how to support sustainable energy, finance the transition, and establish inclusive policymaking processes.