The EU’s lessons for a just transition beyond coal

A miner plays golf inside the historic coal mine
Playing golf inside the historic coal mine “Guido”, Poland, EU. Photo by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland on Flickr.

A new E3G briefing reviews progress made in European coal regions and countries. It draws out lessons relevant for countries within and beyond the EU aiming to transition away from coal in a fair way.

The imperative to stop burning coal has arrived on the top agenda of world leaders in 2021. It culminated in a new international consensus at the UN climate conference COP26 that the world needs to start phasing down coal. In the Glasgow Climate Pact, countries also agreed on the need to ensure a Just Transition in doing so.

The EU played an important part in this by taking steps to retire its own coal fleet by 2030 and by supporting other countries around the world in their efforts to transition away from coal. In fact, the EU is on track to become coal-free by 2030 in a socially fair way with the pending adoption of its ‘Fit for 55 package’. However, ambitious agreements on the package will be needed for the EU to conclude both a timely and socially just transition.

Main lessons learned from the EU’s coal transition

Transition beyond coal. Lessons learned from the EU.

Set an ambitious coal phase out date and be ready for an exit to happen even faster.

Combine increased climate ambition with targeted Just Transition support.

Put regions front and centre and use a bottom-up, participatory process to develop regional just transition strategies.

Mobilise investments in renewable energy and related infrastructure and avoid gas/biomass-conversions.

The EU got on this pathway through a combination of increased climate ambition. This included an increasing carbon price, cheap renewables and recovery funding. Moreover, it also included support for developing regional transition strategies through a dedicated Just Transition Mechanism. However, for the EU to support its global partners to share the benefits of a coal-free power system, it needs to assume an active role in developing and financing country-specific deals like the South African Just Transition Partnership.

Read the full briefing here.


Subscribe to our newsletter