Under a policy measure introduced in 2018, part of the public revenues of greenhouse gas (GHG) emission allowances auctions generated by the operation of the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) are channelled to projects and actions that will enhance the Just Transition of Greek lignite areas. These national resources are a necessary complement to the EU funds already available as part of the ongoing Just Development Transition Program 2021-2027.
Five years since the adoption of this innovative – compared to EU standards –policy measure, the Green Tank’s policy brief titled “National Resources for the Just Transition” draws on the relevant ministerial decisions and the decisions by the Green Fund to list (a) the absorption stages of the national resources for the period 2018-2022, (b) the actions that have been financed so far and (c) their allocation per lignite area, proposing solutions to the problems observed so far. The analysis shows the following:
- Since 2018, the relevant collected funds amount to €127.7 million. Of these, €62 million – corresponding to the years 2018 and 2019 – have been allocated and are currently being deployed. Funds for the years 2020, 2021 and 2022, amounting to €65.7 million (51.5%) still remain unused.
- To date, only programs for the use of the 2018-2019 resources (€62 million) have been developed. However, a very low absorption rate is noted – accounting for just 2.1% of these resources, as well as a long delay to their activation, and a lack of complementarity across projects and actions between years.
- 76% of the allocated funds is earmarked for lignite areas as a whole. Of the remaining, the largest share (13%) is channeled to the Regional Unit (RU) of Florina, followed by the Region of Western Macedonia (7%), the RU of Kozani (3%), and the Municipality of Megalopolis (1%).
- The entrepreneurship support program is the one only active directly targeted at local societies. It accounts for 23% of the total actions, while energy communities and youth – whose support should be a priority – receive only 5% and 2%, respectively. 24% is directed to infrastructure projects of wider interest and 16% is dedicated to planning and studies.
Based on these findings, it seems that the prioritization of the use of the available funds to date does not meet the urgent challenges of the Just Transition of lignite areas. Large fluctuations in the ETS revenues from the auctioning of emission allowances channelled to lignite areas each year, and their fragmented allocation does not allow the stability required for their optimal use.
It is necessary to immediately activate all available national resources for actions that directly support local communities, and to bring them into line with European resources in accordance with the approved Territorial Just Transition Plans (TJTPs) and the Just Development Transition Program 2021-2027.
“Channelling part of the ETS revenues to the lignite areas is an achievement by the Greek local authorities and civil society. In view of the upcoming national and local elections, commitments are needed to ensure that these resources will be used to effectively address the major challenges faced by the lignite areas”, said Nikos Mantzaris, policy analyst at The Green Tank.
The policy paper titled “National Resources for the Just Transition” is available here.