The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) works in some of the least energy-efficient economies in the world. Of the 10 most polluting coal power plants in Europe, seven are in the Western Balkans. And the amount of carbon emitted into the atmosphere in that region, adjusted for the size of the economy, is up to three times the EU average. At the same time, many countries are heavily dependent on coal. A total of 16 countries, almost half of the economies where we invest, generate more than 20 percent of their electricity by burning this cheap but polluting fossil fuel.

In some places, there is virtually no alternative: Kosovo and Mongolia are almost completely dependent on coal and across the West Balkans more than 60 percent of electricity is coal-fired. beyondbrics Emerging markets guest forum beyond brics is a forum on emerging markets for contributors from the worlds of business, finance, politics, academia and the third sector. All views expressed are those of the author(s) and should not be taken as reflecting the views of the Financial Times. Quite apart from the climate change impact, the results are immediate and obvious: Macedonia’s capital Skopje currently has the dubious distinction of being identified as the most polluted capital in the world by UN Environment Programme, an agency of the United Nations. Breathing in neighboring Pristina, the capital of Kosovo, “harms your health”, as protesters — wrapped in heavy smog — recently claimed. Poland, one of the most advanced transition countries, is home to seven of the 10 cities in the EU with the highest levels of particulate matter.