Monday, on 11th December, the European Commission will host an important conference on coal.
The ‘Coal Regions in Transition Platform’, which will be launched in Strasbourg, France is intended to support stakeholder dialogue for coal regions in transition. Its aim is to support EU coal regions to develop governance processes for transition, exchange best practices on socio-economic aspects and provide information about financial tools to support the move away from coal. The Greens in the European Parliament welcome this initiative, which they will be active participants in.
In order to better understand the socio-economic aspects of the coal regions and to evaluate how effective existing EU funds are in helping them to phase out coal, the Greens have recently commissioned a study, 'Phasing out coal, reinventing Europe". This report, which is due to be published early next year, will present 4 case studies based in Germany (Lusatia), Greece (Kosani), Spain (Aragon) and Poland (Silesia).
If the transition is effectively planned with all interested actors, moving away from coal can offer fantastic new opportunities for the concerned regions. Take Loos-en-Gohelle in the North of France, where citizens traumatised by the closure of a coal mine in their town worked on an inspiring transition project which has helped former miners to move to high valued-added jobs around eco-activities and renewable energy sources. This economic ‘renaissance’ is such a success that it is now inspiring lots of towns across Europe.
The Green group in the European Parliament is determined to engage in a meaningful dialogue with all actors so we can find the best possible path out of coal, while supporting the supports the regions and miners effectively. They have successfully pushed for a series of toolkits derived from the stakeholder platform dialogue on coal that will enable participants to develop local transition strategies on governance processes, funding possibilities, employment and growth opportunities and environmental rehabilitation. Further, Greens are currently pushing for a future energy system without coal, while ensuring a fair transition for the regions concerned in the framework of the negotiations around the Clean Energy package. Whereas environmental groups have criticised the Council this week for throwing a lifeline to polluting coal power plants by allowing prolonged subsidies, the European Parliament´s environment committee has stood firm on phasing out subsidies for coal.
Everywhere in the world, more and more stakeholders have realised the necessity of phasing out coal and are looking at how to progressively move away from one of the dirtiest energy sources, which not only increases global warming but also has significant impacts our environment and our health.
The subject was particularly high on the agenda of the latest climate negotiations in Bonn, Germany last month. Several countries and civil society organisations launched initiatives calling for a coal phase out, counteracting the push from Donald Trump’s administration. Non-governmental organisations launched their ‘Europe Beyond Coal’ campaign in order to completely phase out coal production and coal based electricity generation by 2030. At an international level, Canada and the UK took the initiative with 20 countries and two US states to launch the “Powering Past Coal” Alliance. This alliance does not include the world’s top 10 consumers of coal and new constructions of coal power plants would still be allowed if they are equipped with emission reduction technologies but it sends a political signal and will hopefully encourage several countries to go to the same direction.
The phasing out of coal - if developed in close partnership with all actors (miners and their families, local and regional representatives) - offers sustainable opportunities for Europe and will help us reach the Paris Climate targets. This will be a major focus of the Greens work throughout 2018.
More information (and action!)
· SIGN the Europe beyond coal petition!
· Follow on twitter our Green MEP Florent Marcellesi who will be present at the launch of the EU commission platform in Strasbourg on 11th December.
· Read the Interview from Jean François Caron, French Green Mayor of Loos-en-Gohelle
· Read the Written Question to the European Commission Green MEP Florent Marcellesi (together with other Members of the European Parliament) wrote to the European Commission after the decision to the Spanish government to forbid energy company Iberdrola to shut its coal power plants (in Spanish).