From the 18th century to this day, coal has remained perhaps the most important fuel for the production of electricity, worldwide. Wherever coal deposits were found in the world, power plants were constructed, jobs were created, settlements were built in which generations were raised, while this activity became a major financial occupation for the local communities. Greece followed the same path, with its own version of coal: lignite (brown coal), mainly in Western Macedonia and the Peloponnese. Nevertheless, the age of coal and lignite must soon be consigned to the past. The consequences of burning lignite are catastrophic for the environment and public health. Lignite and fossil fuels in general, such as hydrocarbons, have no place in a world in which climate change must be averted, while they have also become financially unsustainable for the national economy. This is why the government’s commitment to phase out lignite by 2028 is a very positive development that WWF Greece played an important role in. However, this development cannot simply abandon the people of local communities that secured the provision of an uninterrupted supply of electricity to the entire country for decades. In that framework, the decision of the Government for a total phase out of lignite by 2028 is a very important and positive development. For it to have any real impact, however, the government must first abandon its plans for Oil & Gas extraction. It would be a mistake for Greece to allow the lignite’s dead-end to trap us in the dead-end of oil.
Faced with the critical crossroads of climate crisis, turning to cleaner forms of energy and abandoning fossil fuels is imperative. However, a disorderly, and incorrectly and non-inclusively planned transition would be violent, and for that reason it must be paired with an integrated strategy. For this reason, in close partnership with WWF Germany, WWF Bulgaria and WWF Poland, in 2017 we designed the ‘Just Transition ineastern and southern Europe’ programme, aiming at the smooth transition of coal regions towards the day after and the support of local communities. Our vision? Workers and economies will not be impacted in the post-lignite era.
In the framework of the ‘Just Transition in Eastern and Southern Europe’ programme, we carried out a new study in partnership with a specialised consultancy firm (LDK Consultants), titled Just Transition and Employment in Greece’. The study examines the impacts (direct and medium-long term) on workers in lignite regions of Western Macedonia and Megalopoli, while also proposing solutions based on our constructive contribution, so that no one is left behind during the transition process!
Turning to a new productive and economic model must not leave anyone behind. That is why, together with local communities, we provide and plan for the future, so that the transition can be as smooth as possible. Together we can propose solutions that will improve our future. This is why:
- We designed and implemented strategic plans for regions in Greece, Bulgaria, and Poland that are dependent on coal.
- We organised open discussions with representatives of local governments, local MPs, representatives of workers and civil society organisations and other local stakeholders in Bulgaria, Greece, Poland, and Germany.
- We contributed to the creation of a living and broader agency network through the exchange of knowledge in the four countries.
- We tried to establish the term “Just Transition” on a European level, by organising policy and communication actions, as well as meetings with top EU institutions.
Furthermore, we created a roadmap for the Transition of the Western Macedonia Region to a the post-lignite era.
© GregMcNevin / EBC
In a world where fossil fuels are gradually being abandoned, people are turning to the regions that bore a massive burden in previous decades. Support WWF Greece in its effort for a Just Transition.