02. June 2022Q&A Time: Exploring Territorial Just Transition Plans in 3 European Regions

This blog is in response to CINTRAN's second webinar in the Coal+ Regions in Transition event series. The second webinar took place on 19 May 2022 and presented on “Territorial Just Transition Plans, in Process and in Practice.” The webinar recording and presentations can be found at the end of the blog.

 

Territorial Just Transition Plans (TJTPs) have been introduced as a prerequisite to the EU’s Joint Transition Fund, but, in practice, should serve more than just a means towards one specific end. So, what’s the plan now? CINTRAN`s second webinar of its capacity-building events series explored 3 European regions’ (North Hungary, Western Macedonia, and Stara Zagora) experiences and lessons learned in the Territorial Just Transition Plans process, benefits and limitations of such instruments, as well as tips for ensuring that these documents truly guide a transition that is just.

Specifically, the webinar asked: What is the state of play for TJTPs around Europe? Has the process of creating, submitting and revising them resulted in positive outcomes and improved planning? Are the plans being developed in a way overly focused on projects and infrastructural improvements, or are they (also) being crafted in a way that remains people-centered and truly just?

Lukas Hermwille, coordinator of CINTRAN project, opened the webinar by stressing the complete change that decarbonization will produce in all the regions. He stressed that a Territorial Just Transition Plan should be a societal project that brings all stakeholders together to minimize social and economic impacts.

Zsuzsa Piskóti-Kovács (Eszterházy Károly Catholic University) started the discussion by breaking down TJTPs in North Hungary, reviewing the context, the process and actors involved, the engagement of stakeholders, as well as the challenges and opportunities that had risen, such as synchronizing the top-down and bottom-up approaches, demarcation of just transition funds, and planning the repurposing the mines. Zsuzsa ended her presentation by emphasizing that supporting workers and households that use lignite for heating is one of the highest priorities of the region.

The webinar then continued with Dimitris Ziouzios (Regional Development Fund of Western Macedonia) reviewing the status of the energy transition in the Western Macedonia region and Greece overall, including budget allocation, planned priority interventions, and timelines of negotiations. In doing so, he concluded that the energy transition must focus on the changes in governance and intensifying of administrative capacity at local and regional level.

Rumyana Grozeva (Stara Zagora Regional Economic Development Agency) closed the webinar by presenting the Stara Zagora Territorial Just Transition Plan. She examined how it came to be, including the impact of energy changes on capacity and jobs as well as economic sectors that will decline or emerge as a result . By showcasing the roadmap for the transition process, she then highlighted the wide variety of stakeholders, potential impacts, and how the region is shaping its economic diversification.

Throughout the webinar, the diverse audience actively presented their questions as well as shared their own ideas and resources on just transition planning. As not all questions could be answered live, we feature below a round of audience questions and direct responses from the speakers. As a final remark, the speakers and audience concluded that youth are the drivers we should actively involve in this transition period.

Watch the full webinar here.

 


Questions from the audience:

Q: I would like to ask how have workers and trade unions been involved in the co-design of the TJTPs locally/regionally/sectorally?

Dimitris Ziouzios: In the case of Greece, information actions were carried out for the TJTPs and in October 2021 they were put to a public consultation in which the institutions, stakeholders as well as the citizens, had the opportunity to submit comments, suggestions or observations.

Zsuzsa Piskóti-Kovács: In the case of Hungary, the Coal Commission was established in March of 2021. It provides a consultation platform for stakeholders of transition. Trade Unions are members of it as well, you can read further information on it here: https://igazsagosatmenet.eu/en/coal-commission/. In 2021 we organized 3 meetings, now we are preparing the 4th.

 

Q: How have young people been engaged in the design of the TJTPs that have been presented?

Dimitris Ziouzios: In the case of Greece, unfortunately, there was no purely youth organization involved in the consultation. There was youth through trade unions, organizations and stakeholders in general

Zsuzsa Piskóti-Kovács: In Hungary we are running a LIFE IP project, in the framework of that we organize events, where the target group are the youth, however it rather covers awareness raising activities.

 

Q: I am interested in the inclusion of environmental issues in the transition plans, whether they are included and how they will be implemented

Dimitris Ziouzios: There is a clear correlation between TJTPs measures and actions and regional and national environmental objectives and commitments.

 

Q: I would have 2 questions: 1) Is there any discussion (as risk) on returning back to lignite because of the energy price surge? And if yes, what local stakeholders say about it? 2)The presentation mentioned large investments from the JTF, while the JTF only allows large investments with very many conditions. How can you address this and justify it? How will small local stakeholders benefit from large investments?

Dimitris Ziouzios:  Due to the energy crisis, in 2022 an increase in lignite reserves was launched in Western Macedonia to cover part of the electricity production if the price of gas increases further. The measure is temporary and in any case, does not change the schedule of de-ligation.

 

Q: Do you think that TJTPs are or should be consistent with REPowerEU?

Dimitris Ziouzios: Obviously, there is a connection between the TJTPs and REPowerEU, mainly in the dependence on the imported natural gas, a parameter that is particularly critical for Greece. It is considered appropriate to update the National Recovery and Sustainability Plan in order to finance energy security and autonomy actions.

 

Still wanting more? Don`t miss our next webinar! Look out for all the latest info on the event series here.

 


Watch the webinar on “Territorial Just Transition Plans, in Process and in Practice” here.

Find the full presentations below: