Cover photo by Tookapic.
Coal is currently mined in 41 regions across 12 EU countries, making it the most abundant fossil fuel in the EU and a significant source of economic activity. Additionally, the coal sector provides jobs to an estimated 240,000 people, including 180,000 in the mining of coal and lignite and 60,000 in coal- and lignite-fired power plants. Coal accounts for nearly a quarter of the total electricity production in the EU and it is an important fuel for industrial processes such as steel production, even though the production and consumption of coal has been steadily declining over the past few decades.
While coal remains a central fuel in the European energy mix, the EU is committed to drastically reducing its carbon emissions, including those from coal-fired power plants. To encourage the long-term sustainable use of coal, the deployment of innovative technologies, such as carbon capture and storage (CCS), are key.
The declining use of coal has led to mines closing down in a number of regions across Europe. To ensure that no regions are left behind in the move towards a climate neutral economy, the Commission launched in December 2017 the ‘Platform on coal regions in transition’. The platform is a key part of the coal and carbon-intensive regions in transition initiative, included as a non-legislative element of the ‘Clean energy for all Europeans’ package.
The Platform on coal regions in transition aims to:
- Build capacity – it provides needs-oriented technical assistance and advice to coal regions in transition, focusing on three key areas of the transition process:
- strategies and governance
- project identification, and
- project design and development
- Develop support materials - it delivers toolkits, guidelines and reports, covering key transition-related issues for coal regions in transition in Europe, such as: governance, environmental rehabilitation, employment, financing, clean air and technologies.
- Connecting stakeholders – it facilitates collective dialogue among regions and the wider stakeholder community, good practices and cooperation and organises high-level political events.
In February 2019, the European Commission launched a secretariat in charge of managing the Platform’s events and meetings, technical support and materials.
At present, pilot projects are underway in 14 regions: Silesia (Poland), Western Macedonia (Greece), Trencin (Slovakia), Moravia-Silesia, Usti and Karlovy Vary (Czechia), Jiu Valley (Romania), Asturias, Aragón , Castilla-y-León and Castilla-La Mancha (Spain), Brandenburg, Saxony and Saxony Anhalt (Germany). Projects may be eligible for existing EU funding.