Kyiv, 12th June 2019. Independent experts from four European countries prepared an analytical study “Transformation Experiences of Coal Regions: Recommendations for Ukraine and other European countries” which was initiated and presented today by Ukrainian and German NGOs. The experts analysed various practices with coal mines closures in Germany, Romania, the Czech Republic and several Ukrainian towns. As a result, they compiled a list of specific recommendations for authorities on national, regional and local levels on how to manage the process of coal mines shutdowns: keeping it sound from an economic perspective, as well as having minimal negative social consequences.
According to the study, the first steps necessary for a Just Transition of coal regions are:
- Establishment of a Commission for Structural Changes, consisting of representatives of all key stakeholders (national and local authorities, trade unions, science, civil society, business), which would provide recommendations to the national government
- Setting a coal phase-out date for the energy sector
- Establishment of Restructuring Funds (Economic diversification, Infrastructure development, Pension, Education etc.) aimed at innovative solutions.
These steps are to help in building up a dialogue between national and local authorities, civil society, business, scientific community and coal miners. All the stakeholders must work together to set up economic and social development programmes, promote transition to sustainable energy production and create new local and regional educational institutions, research and innovative centers.
“Ukraine has already been closing its old and unprofitable coal mines. According to the Ministry of Energy, 68 state mining enterprises have closed in Ukraine since 2004 and 19 state enterprises are being liquidated or are currently under preparation for liquidation. In the span of 1990-2018 the number of employees involved in the industry decreased from almost 1 million to 42 000. Recommendations from international experts published in this study are meant to start a conversation about requalification and employment of the fired coal miners, economic diversification and future of coal regions altogether”, – comments Kostiantyn Krynytskyi, Just Transition campaign coordinator, Ecodia.
“Germany is a useful example of the transformation. It is the first country in the world to start a process of phasing-out coal from its energy sector, planning to finish it completely by 2035-2038. In order to improve social and economic situation in the mining regions, authorities focused on improving education and developing science, technological innovations, infrastructure development, environmental and cultural projects. Now Germany’s Ruhr region, which was a coal mining centre for many decades, became one of the most innovative ones in the country, and the environmental situation there has improved considerably. Although Ukraine and Germany are very different from socio-economic perspectives, I believe that Ukrainians can take useful lessons from the German experience and take it into account to develop own transformation plan”, adds Martin Schön-Chanishvili, Senior Policy Advisor for South Eastern and Eastern European Partnerships, Germanwatch.
Other presenters included:
- Maksym Fedotov, Director of Directorate of Fossil Fuels, Ministry of Energy and Coal Industry of Ukraine;
- Iryna Sushchenko, Secretary of Porkrovsk Town Council, Donetsk Region;
- Dmytro Naumenko, analyst of the project Low-Carbon Ukraine, Berlin Economics.
The research was carried out within the framework of the project “New Energy – New Opportunities for Sustainable Development of Donbas” implemented by NGOs Ecoaction (Kyiv, Ukraine), Luhansk Regional Human Rights Center “Alternativa” (Kyiv/Donbas, Ukraine) and Germanwatch (Bonn/Berlin, Germany).
Earlier representatives of Ukraine’s coal mining towns signed a Memorandum of Partnership and the establishment of a Platform for Sustainable Development. Such cooperation is expected to help to overcome common challenges, implement the principles of sustainable development and Just Transition.
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Photo: Niels Ackermann / LUNDI13