Quitting coal dependency is a process that has been delayed in certain parts of Europe, Source: Depositphotos

Good timing is a key factor for successful green energy transition in European coal regions

Good timing is a key factor for successful green energy transition in European coal regions

Find out more conclusions from a recent webinar that revealed the options for a just transition

Yesterday, a webinar called ‘Expanding Opportunities, part of the Transition Opportunities project by Brand Media Bulgaria, gathered experts and participants interested in sharing and finding out what hides behind the idea of a successful energy transition in European coal regions.

The event engaged successful entrepreneurs, brave investors and innovators in a productive discussion on diversifying coal-dependent regional economies. The webinar aimed to strengthen the innovation potential of local stakeholders and allow them to think bigger and out of the box when applying for European funding. It built upon the conclusions of 6 regional events – 3 awareness-raising conferences and 3 round tables held on the territory of the most traditional coal regions of Bulgaria – Pernik, Stara Zagora and Kyustendil earlier this year, again organised as part of the Transition Opportunities project.

These regions are indeed very much a concern and focus of European policymakers since it is considered that the energy transition process has been delayed there. However, as the old adage goes – “better late than never” - when it comes to taking decisive steps towards creating a climate-neutral economy in the place of an emission-based one and doing it with a concern for the local residents and their livelihood and welfare.

European funds help build trust in affected communities

Speaking of Bulgaria, the European Commission has set aside some 1.2 billion euros through its Just Transition Fund for the three Bulgarian coal regions, however, due to administrative delays and general misunderstandings and concerns about many of the issues or even the importance of implementing a transition process to greener energy had resulted in the loss of opportunity to receive 100 million euros from this funding.

That is why initiatives, such as Transition Opportunities, are important in communicating the fact that there are perks in this admittedly difficult process and lifting the veil of disinformation that obfuscates the support that the EU provides along the way.

Agnès Monfret, Head of the Cohesion Policy Unit for Bulgaria, Hungary, and Slovenia at the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy, was one of the experts who took part in the webinar.

It is particularly important for us to implement European policies on time, building trust and in direct relation to the needs of the territories,” she said during her presentation. She gave as an example the engagement among the youth regarding the energy transition (through initiatives like Teens4Green that awards youth projects).

In the bigger picture though there are the Territorial Plans through which each of the regions has the opportunity to show its entrepreneurial acumen and defend its own particular vision to the European Commission for what its stakeholders see as a just transition.

The country needs a bottom-up approach, and in a centralized state this is not a given," said Agnès Monfret.

She was adamant that companies in coal regions should think about how to go green and get support for it. She gave the example of Stara Zagora, where in her view, "green" is already a part of the city, citing the idea for ​​a hydrogen valley that began circulating there years ago. 



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