Consultation on Just Transition in Western Macedonia

On February 18, 2019, the Green Tank participated in a consultation with World Bank experts on the development of a just transition plan for the post-lignite era in Western Macedonia, following an invitation by the mayor of Kozani.

The World Bank provides technical support to the Region of Western Macedonia in order for the latter to develop a specific plan for addressing the acute problems that will arise from the irreversible reduction of lignite activity in the region.

Representing the Green Tank, Nikos Mantzaris stressed the importance of avoiding projects that perpetuate the lignite power generation model, such as “clean coal” technologies  (CCS / CCU), as these are highly inefficient and expensive and, at the same, time deprive investment in clean energy, as well as, other sustainable economic activities which can revitalize the local economy of valuable funds.

He also underlined the need for agreement in the funding priorities at the regional, national and European levels for lignite areas. In this sense, the six priority axes proposed by the Greek Ministry of Environment and Energy following a public consultation process linked to the National Just Transition Fund, are all in the right direction and should also be adopted by the Region of Western Macedonia. He noted also that the European Commission is starting to move in a similar direction through its Coal Regions in Transition platform.

In addition, Nikos Mantzaris emphasized that the transition plan should move beyond the mentality of short-term projects and adopt a 10-15 year perspective in order to offset the unemployment and local GDP losses, which will result from the retirement of lignite plants -in the same time frame- in Western Macedonia.

He also placed emphasis on the importance of transparency and the widest possible participation of all actors both in the preparation of a transition plan, as well as in the governance of the actual transition process.

Lastly, the issue of funding was highlighted. Specifically, it was underlined that the €30 million that will be given per year by the National Just Transition Fund are not enough to deal with the acute problems already experienced by Western Macedonia and Megalopolis, and must therefore be complemented by others national and European resources.