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Serbia Ambition gap

What is Serbiaʼs pathway to limit global warming to 1.5°C?

1.5°C compatible pathways

For Serbia to embark on a 1.5°C compatible pathway, it would need to cut GHG emissions by between 44–54% by 2030 below 2010 levels excluding LULUCF. That is significantly more than the government’s NDC target of 13.2%, also outlined in its Draft Climate Strategy and Action Plan.1,3 The target translates to an absolute level of about 54 MtCO₂/yr by 2030 excluding LULUCF, and about 48 MtCO₂/yr including LULUCF.15

Long term pathway

To align with 1.5°C compatible pathways, Serbia would need to reduce its GHG emissions between 85–93% (4–10 MtCO₂e/yr) by 2050 compared to 2010 levels excluding LULUCF. Serbia’s LULUCF sector absorbed about 6 MtCO₂e/yr in 20103. The remaining emissions will have to be balanced through carbon dioxide removal approaches, either through strengthening land sinks or deploying carbon removal technologies. The latter are not currently available at scale and require high up-front investments. Three out of four of the scenarios analysed here suggest that the agricultural sector becomes the biggest emitter in Serbia by 2050.

The government’s 55% emissions reduction commitment for mid-century as outlined in the Climate Strategy and Action Plan exceeds the Paris Agreement compatible pathways by between 17 and 21 MtCO₂e/yr.3

Electricity generation is the main source of emissions in Serbia, and therefore the power sector’s decarbonisation will drive the biggest GHG emissions reductions. Serbia has not set out a legally binding phase-out date for coal. However, the government’s draft National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP) expects fossil fuel power generation to be completely phased out of the electricity system by 2050, with coal power kept on standby as additional capacity.7

1 Republic of Serbia. Nationally Determined Contribution ( NDC ) of the Republic of Serbia for the 2021 – 2030 period. (2022).

2 Energy Community. Secretariat welcomes Sofia Declaration on the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans – Energy Community Homepage. (2020).

3 Republic of Serbia. Draft Low Carbon Development Strategy with Action plan. (2019).

4 Gütschow, J., Günther, A. & Pflüger, M. The PRIMAP-hist national historical emissions time series v2.3 (1750-2019)..

5 Republic of Serbia. Second National Communication of Turkmenistan Under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Eng_Serbia.pdf (2017).

6 IEA. World Energy Balances: 2021 version. (2021).

7 Republic of Serbia. Draft Integrated National Energy and Climate Plan 2021 – 2030 of the Republic of Serbia with a vision by 2050.(2022).

8 Republic of Serbia. Zakon o korišćenju obnovljivih izvora energije – Law on the Use of Renewable Energy Sources. Službeni glasnik RS (2021).

9 eKapija. eKapija | Gde smo godinu dana nakon donošenja Zakona o korišćenju obnovljivih izvora energije – Prikaz regulatornog okvira. (2022).

10 Republic of Serbia. Указ о проглашењу Закона о енергетској ефикасности и рационалној употреби енергије Закон о енергетској ефикасности и рационалној употреби енергије – Decree on Promulgation of the Law on Energy Efficiency and Rational Use of Energy Law on Energy Efficiency. (2021).

11 Ministry of Environmental Protection of the Republic of Serbia. Уредба о условима и начину спровођења субвенционисане куповине нових возила која имају искључиво електрични погон, као и возила која уз мотор са унутрашњим сагоревањем покреће и електрични погон (хибридни погон) | Министарство заштите животне средине – Regulation on the conditions and method of implementing the subsidized purchase of new vehicles that have an exclusively electric drive, as well as vehicles that, in addition to the internal combustion engine, are powered by an electric drive (hy…. (2022).

12 Balkan Green Energy News. Građanima Srbije i u 2023. subvencije za kupovinu električnih i hibridnih vozila. (2022).

13 EconStor. EconStor: Orient/East-Med Corridor: Challenges and potentials. (2019).

14 Srbijatransport Beograd. Saobraćajni sistem Srbije. (2020).

15 Using projected LULUCF emissions by 2030 from Serbia’s NDC document to estimate the absolute emissions level including LULUCF. See assumptions here.


Serbiaʼs total GHG emissions

excl. LULUCF MtCO₂e/yr

Displayed values
Reference year
Reference year
1.5°C emissions level
Ambition gap
  • 1.5°C compatible pathways
  • Middle of the 1.5°C compatible range
  • Current policy projections
  • 1.5°C emissions range
  • Historical emissions
2030 emissions levels
1.5°C emissions level
Ref. year 2010

Energy system transformation

Serbia will need to reduce energy sector emissions between 30–74% (17–42 MtCO₂e/yr) by 2030 compared to 2010 levels to be compatible with the Paris Agreement. This reduction is bigger than the cross-sectoral 13.2% by 2030 (8 MtCO₂e/yr reduction) envisaged by the government in its NDC. The greater ambition is broadly achievable if the share of renewable energy in the primary energy mix increases from its 2019 total of 13.3% to between 17–53% by 2030. Negative emissions technologies such as BECCS also enter the mix in the 2030s in all but one 1.5°C scenario analysed here, with the potential for reaching negative emissions from the overall energy sector starting in 2050.

In the short term, Serbia should accelerate efforts to bring renewables into the power system for example through organising auctions to add wind capacity as soon as possible. The government need to also amend the law on renewable energy sources to include the possibility of solar PV, allowing households to participate as prosumers in the electricity market. Together with greater incentives to drive the uptake of electric vehicles, adding renewable energy into the power mix will also help to decarbonise the transport sector.


Serbiaʼs primary energy mix

petajoule per year

SSP1 Low CDR reliance
SSP1 High CDR reliance
Low energy demand
High energy demand - Low CDR reliance
  • Negative emissions technologies via BECCS
  • Unabated fossil
  • Nuclear and/or fossil with CCS
  • Renewables incl. biomass

Serbiaʼs total CO₂ emissions

excl. LULUCF MtCO₂/yr

  • 1.5°C compatible pathways
  • 1.5°C emissions range
  • Middle of the 1.5°C compatible range
  • Historical emissions

1.5°C compatible emissions benchmarks

Key emissions benchmarks of Paris compatible Pathways for Serbia. The 1.5°C compatible range is based on the Paris Agreement compatible pathways from the IPCC SR1.5 filtered with sustainability criteria. The median (50th percentile) to 5th percentile and middle of the range are provided here. Relative reductions are provided based on the reference year.

Reference year
Reference year
Year of net zero
incl. BECCS excl. LULUCF and novel CDR
Total GHG
Megatonnes CO₂ equivalent per year
29 to 35
8 to 20
4 to 10
Relative to reference year in %
−54 to −44%
−87 to −68%
−93 to −85%
Total CO₂
18 to 27
1 to 15
−2 to 5
2042 to 2068
Relative to reference year in %
−61 to −40%
−98 to −68%
−104 to −89%