In order to meet the climate change mitigation objectives of the European Union (EU) as well as the objectives of the Paris Agreement, it is inevitable that the EU phases out fossil fuel consumption in the power sector and decarbonises fossil-fuel dependent industries. These industries are not spread evenly across the EU but concentrated in a number of carbon-intensive regions. Decarbonisation will lead to deep structural changes with implications for regional economies, labour markets, as well as for the regions’ social, political, cultural and demographic composition. If not managed well, these structural changes may cause serious economic impacts, societal upheaval, aggravated social inequalities, and hardship.
To minimise such consequences, it is necessary to better understand the patterns and dynamics of structural change in response to decarbonisation at the regional level, to understand which parameters determine the pace of transformation as well as the capacity of regional actors to adapt and pro-actively create alternative structures. The project "Carbon Intensive Regions in Transition – Unravelling the Challenges of Structural Change" (CINTRAN) aims to enable these activities through highly integrated, inter- and transdisciplinary research working in close collaboration with regional stakeholders. The researchers combine quantitative model-based research with qualitative in-depth analysis. Their qualitative research will focus on four highly fossil-fuel dependent regions: Western Macedonia (Greece), Silesia (Poland), Ida-Virumaa (Estonia) and the Rhenish mining area (Germany). The regions were selected to cover a diverse set of different fuels, state of economic development, diversification of the regional economy, political economy, and spatial composition. This diversity will enable the researchers to derive generalisable insights about the patterns and dynamics of decarbonisation and the corresponding structural adjustments that hold relevance for all carbon-intensive regions in the EU and its neighbouring countries.