At the initiative of Greenpeace and Bankwatch, a meeting took place at the headquarters of the Department for Energy with representatives of the Ministry of Economy, Energy and Business Environment (MEEMA).
The objectives of the meeting were to facilitate transition from a coal-based energy sector to one based on clean energy, ensuring compliance with the commitments assumed by the EU under the Paris Agreement and, not least, the challenges faced in Jiu Valley and in Oltenia, regions directly affected by the decarbonization process, were also addressed.
“There is desire and good faith on the part of this government team to involve in a constant dialogue with the civil society when we point out important elements such as clean energy. We are aware of its importance in the energy and economic development of the country, so we assume compliance with the directions outlined by the European Commission and those resulting from the Paris Agreement. There is a decision of the ministry to comply with everything that means environmental and decarbonization obligations and we will struggle to reach the targets assumed on the replacement of coal-fired energy production capacities with renewable sources. Finding solutions to create economic alternatives in regions affected by transition to a clean energy is also a priority. The National Integrated Plan for Energy and Climate Change and the Energy Strategy will be harmonized and their objective will be decarbonization. For the security of the National Energy System, it is still important to keep coal-fired energy capacities in order to prevent critical situations, until a comfortable level of interconnection capacities is reached,” said Niculae Havrilet, Secretary of State within Ministry of Economy, Energy and Business Environment (MEEMA).
EU support for coal regions
The EU has committed to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40% before 2030, and by at least 80% by 2050. This will require a transition from relying on fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, and in particular a reduction in power generation from coal.
While EU production and consumption of coal has declined steadily, coal still provides about a quarter of EU power generation. Coal is mined in 12 Member States, and coal-fired power plants operate in 21 Member States. The European coal sector employs 238,000 people in directly linked activities, such as coal mines and power plants. An estimated 160,000 jobs could disappear by 2030.
Further job losses are expected in indirect activities along the value chain, e.g. power generation, equipment supply, services, research and development. Impacts of phasing out coal are also likely to be felt in the iron and steel sectors, mining equipment manufacturing and coal terminals.
Transition to a low-carbon economy will therefore require structural changes in coal-producing regions. Proposed solutions include helping workers to retrain and supporting their search for new employment, promoting local economies’ diversification, modernising energy and power generation systems, developing the renewable energy sector, and rehabilitating mining land, for instance by converting former mines for renewable energy use or creating industrial heritage sites.
The EU provides a variety of funding that can be used to alleviate the socio-economic consequences for coal regions. Energy and climate adaptation programmes, along with cohesion policy and research funding opportunities, offer financial support, while additional technical assistance is also available. The European Commission’s Platform for Coal Regions in Transition assists regions to prepare and implement transition activities. As the EU is currently negotiating its post-2020 budgetary framework, the European Parliament and the European Committee of the Regions call for specific measures and tailored funding sources to offer support to facilitate transition in coal regions. The Commission President-elect has announced the establishment of a Just Transition Fund as part of the European Green Deal, and new legislative proposals can be expected early in her term in office.