Focus on the Just Transition ahead of Greece’s local government elections

Ιn view of the October 2023 local elections, The Green Tank sent an open letter to all candidates for the local elections in the lignite regions of the country, accompanied by a briefing note on the progress of the Just Transition to date and policy proposals that respond to the challenges of the coming period.

Here follows the full text of the open letter and the link to the briefing note.


O P E N  L E T T E R

The Just Transition of Greece’s lignite areas is the biggest sustainable development challenge for the whole country. Therefore, in view of the local government elections in October 2023, local communities especially in these regions need targeted proposals for the success of the Just Transition in a way that is participatory and socially just.

To this end, The Green Tank, in a briefing note, maps the progress of the Just Transition to date and the challenges of the next period. This note is addressed to the candidates of the upcoming local government elections and presents the following policy proposals in order to contribute to the demands of the local government for the benefit of local communities:

  1. Strengthening local community participation as a prerequisite for successful transition. Through a series of discussions and organized dialogue, local government can play a key role in disseminating the transition plan, funding programmes and procedures, so that local communities become aware of what is already planned for their area, what opportunities are open and how they can participate.
  2. Redesigning the priorities of the Just Transition Development Plan (JTDP), in view of its revision in March 2025, to better respond to the urgent needs of local communities. In particular, it is proposed to:
  • modify existing programmes or create new ones for energy communities to include citizens and businesses in lignite areas,
  • making all residents of Western Macedonia and Megalopolis eligible for the heat pump programme and increasing the budget of the programme,
  • give priority to the support of small and medium-sized enterprises over large enterprises,
  • establish specific quantitative indicators for the reduction of the carbon footprint of the funded enterprises.
  1. Stability in the flow and planning of the use of national resources for the Just Transition. In order to provide predictability for a more efficient use of resources it is proposed to:
  • define a fixed amount to be allocated annually to the lignite areas from the public revenues coming from the auctioning of emission allowances for the remaining years of the 4th phase of the ETS (2023 – 2030),
  • harmonize the planning of the use of these national resources with the JTDP, so that there is a single plan for the optimal use of all resources.
  1. A sustainable heating and district heating system is necessary. The existing planning for local heating in the lignite areas in 2020, which prioritized fossil gas as a source of heating and district heating, has now become clearly unsustainable (in economic and climate terms). It is proposed to redesign the heating and district heating system in the lignite areas of the country, utilizing long-term sustainable solutions based on the use of renewable energy sources and heat pumps.
  2. Empowering youth participation in transition. Youth drain in lignite areas is a critical factor for the success of the Just Transition. In this direction it is proposed:
  • establish a specific indicator to curb youth drain from lignite areas as part of the evaluation of the 2021 – 2027 JTDP,
  • create a Youth Fund from existing national and European resources, in order to provide tangible incentives and opportunities for youth in the lignite areas to stay and participate in shaping their future.
  1. Cooperation and solidarity with lignite regions in Europe. Communication, exchange of experiences, good practices and challenges between local government representatives of lignite regions in Europe as well as joint advocacy and raising issues related to European and national Just Transition policies is important for a sustainable future for lignite areas.

We hope that the above will provide a useful input for a pre-elections dialogue at the local level, but above all a trigger for action and participation in Just Transition in the coming period.

The full briefing note (in Greek) is available at this link.