Participation in the public consultation of the city of Kozani on Just Transition

The Green Tank submitted detailed comments on the proposed plan of the municipality of Kozani for its transition to the post-lignite era.

It is important that the Municipality of Kozani actively participates in the consultation for the period beyond lignite, for the city and the wider area, presenting a vision for the city of Kozani for 2030. The planning horizon extends even beyond the next programming period 2021-2027. It is about planning for the next 30 years to really redesign the production and consumption model for the country’s energy center.

We consider very positive the initiative of the Municipality to open its vision and ideas for the future to public consultation, so that the final text is formed by the integration of the best proposals from the involved stakeholders and the citizens. In fact the Municipality of Kozani should ask for a similar to be followed for the planning of the post-lignite era at the national level as well. Although the procedure for live consultation due to the pandemic are limited, the Municipality of Kozani should consider ways of more direct dialogue and interaction with the active participation of the stakeholders and concerned citizens.

However, while the proposed strategy of the municipality of Kozani includes various notable ideas, two fundamental elements are missing: the prioritization economic activities and their “translation” into jobs and locally added value. The professional and scientific bodies of Western Macedonia (ANKO, TEE W. Macedonia, EKETA) as well as the NGOs have developed excellent computational tools that can analyze specific scenarios quantitatively if they are given clear input on specific economic activities. We propose that in the next period immediately following the end of this consultation, the municipality of Kozani should first select 5 central economic activities that it considers to represent the future of the region, -instead of just listing all the possible or candidate options-, and then the institutions for their quantitative analysis. Besides, only such proposals can be included in the Territorial Transition Plans required for the disbursement of resources from the European Just Transition Fund.

In addition, despite the reference to renewables, the proposed plan is characterized by an oxymoron: Its first demand for the transition of Kozani to the post-lignite era is the extension of the lifetime of existing lignite plants. There is a similar situation around the issue of district heating. On the one hand, the “preliminary study for the upgrading and expansion of the Kozani district heating installation with alternative energy sources” is presented, while on the other hand, a new, central gas unit dedicated to the district heating is presented as a one-way street. This solution raises serious questions about its environmental and economic viability, its compatibility with the Greek NECP, its source of funding, and the potential burden of its operation on the deployment of renewables. Kozani and other cities in Western Macedonia should think very seriously before dedicating significant resources in a solution with a limited horizon of life and without ensuring the possibility of its easy and inexpensive conversion into a clean fuel (eg green hydrogen) in the foreseeable future.

In any case, especially at this time when attention on both the national and European levels, is concentrated on the future of the lignite regions all over Europe, more clear political choices and directions are needed. Otherwise, a unique opportunity for the region to build its future on solid, sustainable foundations will be lost.

You can read the detailed comments (in Greek) here.