As part of the European Green Deal, the European Union is supporting regions that face particularly demanding challenges in the transition to a climate-neutral economy: So-called Coal+ regions, which are heavily dependent on fossil fuel extraction – such as coal, peat or shale oil – need to transform their economies and substitute their carbon-intensive business models. The challenges these regions face are manifold: On the one hand, the energy transition itself, on the other, job creation and attracting new businesses – but even more, it is a cultural shift that requires new mindsets. How can these regions, despite limited capacities in public administration and shrinking tax revenues, develop appropriate strategies to manage the transformation process successfully and in a socially just way? How can Coal+ regions become attractive to young people?
A good transport infrastructure is a basic prerequisite for regional development, but beyond rail and road, good health care, education, cultural events and nature are also of great importance in enhancing the quality of life in these regions. The "Initiative for Coal Regions in Transition" supports coal, lignite, oil shale, gas, and peat regions (Coal+) across EU member states in achieving climate neutrality by 2050 through connecting stakeholders, deploying technical assistance, and providing supportive resources. As part of this initiative, 17 bilateral or trilateral exchanges for practitioners in coal regions were supported over the last two years. Even though each region is unique and individualised approaches are needed due to the vast differences: The exchange made clear that it can be very valuable to learn from the experiences, achievements and mistakes of other regions. The Wuppertal Institute was part of the consortium that implemented the exchangeEU programme on behalf of the European Commission.
A video and the brochure "Driving Change: How to implement a successful regional just transition" highlight the key lessons learned from the project and vividly show what Coal+ regions are currently struggling with in order to make the transition to a carbon-neutral economy fair for their populations. The video and brochure are available free of charge via the following links.