The European Union formally approved the €17.5Bn Just Transition Fund on the 3rd March.
As part of its plan to eliminate net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, the EU has set aside part of its budget and COVID-19 recovery fund to support those most affected by plans targeting industries relying on or producing fossil fuels.
The fund aims to help regions transistion coal, peat and oil industries to low-carbon alternatives. Poland, Europe’s largest coal producer, will be the biggest beneficiary, followed by Germany and Romania – all home to coal-mining regions. Poland’s Deputy Minister of Funds and Regional Policy criticised the amount set aside for the fund however, claiming that the Fund “will only partially alleviate the impact of the transition and remains a drop in the ocean of our needs”.
Poland, which employs more than half of the more than 230,000 people working in Europe’s coal sector, will have an approximate €3,500,000,000 share of the JTF.
By 2030, the EU expects 160,000 of Europe’s coal jobs may be lost – but this could be offset by the more than 300,000 jobs which could be created this decade through investments in clean energy. Countries can spend their JTF money in areas such as clean energy, re-training workers, and assistance to jobseekers. The funds cannot support fossil fuels or nuclear energy.
EU countries approve green transition fund, look to challenges ahead, Reuters, 2021-03-03