A group of 41 mayors from 10 coal regions in 9 European countries are launching a statement supporting a just transition to the post-coal era. Two of the mayors – from the Czech Republic and Germany – presented this statement to the EU Commission’s Deputy Director-General for Energy, Klaus-Dieter Borchardt at the meeting of the EU “Coal Regions in Transition Platform” in Brussels on 16 October. The Platform aims to help regions overcome their dependence on coal by developing sustainable economic activities.
In the declaration they:
- affirm their commitment to the Forum of Mayors on Just Transition;
- encourage governments to engage in dialogue with regional stakeholders;
- underline the importance of transparency and consultation with local governments in the European Commission’s’ “Coal Regions in Transition Platform” initiative;
- urge that appropriate mechanisms are made available at the national and European levels for capacity building and to ensure financial support for the just transition;
- welcome the proposal of the European Union institutions for a Just Transition Fund, under the condition that it will be adequately funded and used for the support of local communities and the development of sustainable economic activities creation in coal and lignite mining regions;
- call on the European Council, the European Parliament, the European Commission and the Energy Community to strengthen their support for just transition; and
- commit to continued action, at the local level on just transition and to supporting each other in creating a sustainable future for the benefit of all our citizens.
The signatory mayors come from Germany, Slovakia, Poland, Romania, Greece, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic. Two are from non-EU countries (Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro) where phasing out coal is not yet even being discussed, showing that in some cases, regions are taking the lead. Mayors from countries covered by WWF Central and Eastern Europe included:
- Elza Velichkova – Bobov Dol, Bulgaria
- Vasile Jurca – Petrila, Romania
- Nicolae Dunca – Aninoasa, Romania
- Tiberiu Iacob-Ridzi – Petrosani, Romania
- Lucian Resmerită – Lupeni, Romania
- Katarína Macháčková – Prievidza, Slovakia
- FrantišekTám – Bojnice, Slovakia
- Silvia Grúberová – Handlová, Slovakia
- Dušan Šimka – Nováky, Slovakia
- Jozef Božik – Partizánske, Slovakia
“41 mayors have signed the Declaration and we hope to get more signatures. We know change is happening but we now need help from the EU to build our capacity at regional level to cope with the change and to help us access the necessary resources to support a fair and successful transition for all our communities”, said Kamila Bláhová, Mayor of Litvinov (Czech Republic).
One of the signatories is the mayor of Bob dol in Bulgaria. WWF-Bulgaria has been working with stakeholders in the Bob dol and Pernik Municipalities for the past year. A study of the Southwest coal region in Bulgaria was conducted which provided 3 scenarios for possible coal-free prosperity for the region.
Mayors’ Declaration and full list of signatories
Incoming EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has committed to achieving a climate neutral Europe by 2050. To help coal regions reduce emissions and restructure their economies, she wants to set up a ‘Just Transition Fund’. Ensuring there is enough money going to affected regions, and that it is spent only in ways that will support workers and communities in a move towards sustainable net zero emissions is crucial for achieving climate neutrality.
“In Weisswasser, we have navigated many hurdles, for example overcoming depopulation in the 1990s. But we cannot ensure a fair energy transition alone. Our Declaration shows that mayors are ready to engage with the EU and national governments on this issue. We need the EU to show it is listening and work with us on a successful transition for all Europe’s coal regions”, concluded Torsten Pötzsch, Mayor of Weisswasser (Germany).
“Mayors and their regions are looking forward to a future after coal. They are showing their commitment to that future by signing and handing over this declaration. To help them and ensure no-one is left behind, EU funding and constructive dialogue with the impacted regions is crucial”, stated Juliette de Grandpré, Senior Policy Adviser in WWF Germany.