The human face of EU ETS

P R E S S  R E L E A S E

The EU Emissions Trading System provides resources for climate action and the transition to a sustainable model. A mini documentary, created in a collaboration between The Green Tank and Carbon Market Watch as part of the Life ETX project, showcases how these ETS resources are turned into actions for the youth in the lignite region of Western Macedonia, strengthening their participation in the Just Transition.

The Emissions Trading System (ETS), the flagship of European climate policy, is responsible for the drastic reduction in lignite production and greenhouse gas emissions in recent years across Europe. However, together with its contribution to climate protection, the ETS also has a social dimension.

Greece was the first EU Member State to decide to channel part of the national EU ETS revenues to support the Just Transition of its lignite areas. This National Just Transition Fund, operated by the Green Fund, supports actions for the transformation of the local economic and productive model of these areas. Today, in the lignite region of Western Macedonia – the region with the highest unemployment and especially youth unemployment rate compared to the coal regions of Europe – young people benefit from such actions and show the “human face” of the ETS.

The mini documentary titled “Just Transition and Youth Engagement in Greece’s Coal Regions through the EU ETS” was produced in the framework of the Life ETX project and the Human Stories campaign in a collaboration between The Green Tank and Carbon Market Watch. The aim of the campaign is to present the social benefits of ETS resources in different EU-27 countries, and the needed measures in order for climate resources to have a visible impact on the daily lives of citizens. The story is followed by extended interviews.

Empowering young people

In the story from Greece, members of the Association of Active Youths of Florina – OENEF, who now live and work in Kozani and Florina, share how the Association uses the resources of the EU ETS for youth activities. Specifically, the founding members of the Association, Kostas Filippidis and Kostis Stergiou, discuss the landmark projects of the Training Centre for Renewable Energy Sources, operating since November 2022 in the Municipality of Amyntaio and the Education and Innovation Youth Center that is currently under construction in Florina. Both these projects were supported by the national resources available to Greece from the EU ETS, responding to the needs of local youth for information on the energy transition and renewables, for educational programmes, for connection to the labour market and for mobility and exchange with young people from other countries.

Rafailia Georgia Stiouki, member of OENEF, identifies the challenges faced by young people in the region and describes how her participation in youth activities has helped her to play a more active role in the Just Transition with her own ideas and proposals.

Necessary steps for the allocation of resources

From 2018 to 2023, the national resources for the Just Transition through the ETS amount to €127-128 million. On behalf of The Green Tank, partner of the Life ETX project, Ioli Christopoulou, Policy Director, presents how local authorities in lignite regions, civil society organisations and governments over time have supported the idea of using ETS resources for the Just Transition. At the same time, she highlights the need to address delays in the channelling of resources and to create an integrated plan, as to date “the resources have been allocated to different dispersed actions rather than as part of a structured plan for the transformation of lignite areas and as an actual addition to the resources of the European Just Transition Fund”.

Finally, Sam Van den plas, Policy Director of Carbon Market Watch, comments on the progress made in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the energy sector due to the ETS and underlines that these resources should be used to support lignite areas and a just transition for all.

The campaign also features mini documentaries and interviews from Portugal and Belgium, in a collaboration of Carbon Market Watch with ZERO and Bond Beter Leefmilieu (BBL), partners of the Life ETX project.

The LIFE ETX project aims at developing an ETS that benefits both the climate and the citizens. It is implemented by 10 partners, including The Green Tank, and is coordinated by Carbon Market Watch. It is funded by the European Union’s LIFE Programme under grant agreement no. LIFE20 GIC/BE/001662, and co-funded by the European Climate Foundation.