COVID-19 is testing the EU’s ‘Just Transition’ plan

(EurActiv, 11 May 2020) As with all things, COVID-19 is shaking up the EU’s new long-term budget and the Just Transition Fund along with it. For coal dependent member states like Poland, catching up in the clean energy transition may be their only option to avoid losing the battle for EU funding, argue Rebekka Popp and Pieter de Pous.

The disastrous economic situation of coal has gone from bad to worse as coal regions get hit by declining energy demand due to the economic slowdown from COVID-19. While the priority of policy makers is to stabilise regional economies and save jobs, calls have been growing for longer term recovery programmes to speed up the carbon neutral transition.

This has led to talk of repurposing and elevating the Just Transition Fund (JTF) – originally proposed by the European Commission in January to support regions and sectors most affected by the transition to climate neutrality – into a central tool for the crisis response.

Testing the JTF in the time of COVID-19

Repurposing the JTF raises two key issues for the EU’s goal of climate neutrality by 2050. First, the entire EU budget as part of the recovery effort will need to be available to support the transition to climate neutrality with the Just Transition Fund being used to ensure essential planning. And, just as importantly, the recovery effort should include a requirement for the EU’s remaining coal fleet to be put on a phase out trajectory for 2030.

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EurActiv, 11 May 2020: COVID-19 is testing the EU’s ‘Just Transition’ plan