The state of renewables in Albania (and beyond)

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The six Western Balkan countries are struggling to embrace the EU’s plan on green energy. Albania produces almost all its electricity from hydropower plants, but at what cost to the environment? The construction of hydroelectric plants in the Librazhd area is destroying the ecosystem of the Shebenik-Jabllanice National Park. Some of the country’s hydroelectric power plants have been established without thought for the environment and in protected areas. Arlis Alikaj investigated the story in Albania.

We also spoke to Rana Adib, executive director of renewable energy think tank REN 21, about their recent report on the development of renewables worldwide. We focused specifically on Eurasia.

This episode is supported by n-ost, The Moscow Times and the European Climate Foundation, and made by:

  • Natalie Sauer, a French British environmental journalist and English-language editor for The Conversation. A former reporter for Climate Home News, her words have also appeared in international media such as Le Monde Diplomatique, Politico Europe, Open Democracy, Euractiv and the Heinrich Böll Foundation.
  • Boris Schneider, European Journalism Project Manager at Clean Energy Wire (CLEW). Prior he has worked as a specialist on Eastern European climate and energy topics. He graduated from the Free University of Berlin with a M. Sc. in Economics and is interested in the intersection of political economy & ecology.
  • Angelina Davydova, an environmental journalist from Russia. Angelina has been writing about climate change in the region for Russian and international media and attending UN climate summits since 2008. She also teaches environmental journalism and environmental and climate policy and communication in a number of universities and regularly organises training for journalists from Eastern Europe, Central Asia and Caucasus on environmental and climate reporting. Angelina left Russia in March 2022 and is now a fellow of the journalistic programme Media in Cooperation and Transition (MICT) in Berlin.
  • Arlis Alikaj, an accomplished Albanian investigative journalist with critically acclaimed reporting on environmental and social issues in the Balkan region. During his Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence by the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN), Arlis wrote an in-depth investigative article into illegal logging in Albania’s largest national park, Shebenik-Jabllanice, the last virgin forest trees along the green belt in Europe, which was published regionally in eight languages. He won the CEI SEEMO Award for Outstanding Merits in Investigative Journalism 2019 for his investigation, which is meant to acknowledge his courageous reporting and the importance of the work of young local journalists. He has also worked with CiFAR, a global civil society organisation based in Berlin fighting the theft of state assets. Here he led a cross-border investigation on illegal working permits in the UNESCO site of Lake Ohrid, which is shared by Albania and North Macedonia, in which he documented the corruption and the arbitrary decisions of certain powerful local figures taking place on both sides of Lake Ohrid.

Podcast production by www.thepodcastcoach.co.uk

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