Centre to advise on just transition in coal regions

European policymakers are to be advised on a just transition from coal by Glasgow Caledonian University’s Centre for Climate Justice and other UK experts.

The Centre has been invited by the British Embassy in Hungary to organise a one-day conference on October 5, showcasing the UK expertise and experiences of moving away from coal use and to explore the lessons for a just transition.

The virtual conference will provide an opportunity for stakeholders from Central and Eastern Europe to meet UK experts to explore and discuss how coal phase-out can be managed in a just, sustainable and equitable way.

Delegates will hear from a range of experts on the UK’s energy transition, drawing relevant lessons from topics such as alternative growth models, communication, engaging local communities, and transitional employment.

Professor Tahseen Jafry, Director of the Centre for Climate Justice, will chair presentations from experts showcasing the UK experience of coal phaseout and efforts to achieve a just transition within local communities.

The conference will offer practical knowledge to policymakers, asset owners and local governments in how to address this politically sensitive issue and will feature open discussions to steer the conversation to some of the most challenging aspects of transitioning out of coal use. These discussions will lead to a policy brief on the subject matter that will be disseminated shortly after the event.

Professor Jafry said: “Coal mining played an important role in driving economic development in the UK. Today, the coal industry in the UK employs less than 700 people. This transition was a grim affair for many communities as the coal industry provided the backbone of their local economy and social services. The lessons learned from the UK’s experience is the need for a managed transition – and, at the heart of this process, engaging workers in the coal industry and their local communities.

In addition, coal contributes less than 5% of the UK’s electricity generation today. However, there is resentment for decarbonisation agendas that lack social protection for workers in the fossil fuel industries and their communities. The need to connect macroeconomic policy, the decarbonisation agenda, and social protection for workers and communities facing the dismantling of their livelihood, or an unequal burden to overhaul household energy systems, has manifested in the concept of a just transition.

“The world has set out ambitious targets to limit greenhouse gas emissions and prevent the worst impacts of climate change as set out in the 2015 Paris Agreement. More than 100 countries, representing 53% of global GDP, have set or are in the process of setting a target of net zero emissions by 2050, including the UK. However, there has also been an increasingly strong policy focus on ensuring this transition to net-zero is just.”

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