18 NGOs call on the Coal Platform for the Western Balkans and Ukraine to commit to public participation and climate action
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18 NGOs call on the Coal Platform for the Western Balkans and Ukraine to commit to public participation and climate action

As the Coal Platform for the Western Balkans and Ukraine kicks off with an inaugural meeting on Dec. 10-11, 18 NGOs active in the Western Balkans and Ukraine call for effective rules to be put in place from the start in order to ensure an inclusive transition away from all fossil fuels.

The Kolubara A coal power plant in Serbia. Three smoke stacks and a power house are seen in front of a blue sky.

(The existing Kolubara A power plant. Power plants within the Kolubara complex already produce more than 50 percent of Serbian electricity.)

Based on their experience in coal regions in the Western Balkans and Ukraine, and with the EU’s Coal Regions in Transition Platform, the NGOs urge the platform to internalise early on the four principles outlined below to ensure the success of this initiative:

  1. The Platform must have clearly defined, consistent and measurable goals, set up within a clear time frame.
  2. The Platform must ensure that all relevant groups – local communities, NGOs, trade unions, educational institutions, local businesses, etc. – are involved, from participation in the Platform’s meetings, to the selection of pilot regions, to project selection and implementation. This principle must apply on all levels downstream of the Platform, so planning processes in the countries must take a bottom-up approach starting from the local level and engage communities in coal regions.
  3. Any funding channeled by this initiative must be conditioned on local and participatory plans, exclude any kind of support for fossil fuels and incentivise reasonably fast coal phaseout dates.
  4. The initiative should incentivise the adoption of territorial just transition plans, which should be consistent at least with National Energy and Climate Plans. If needed, to ensure consistency with achieving climate neutrality in the region by 2050, the just transition plans should go beyond the NECPs.

“This Initiative is starting in countries whose progress towards climate neutrality is uneven and where political reluctance to act on ending fossil fuel burning is still a reality. If it is to be successful, the new Platform must clearly incentivise early coal phaseout dates and planning for the transition, while educating decision-makers about the enormous opportunities brought about by engaging in these processes,” said Elena Nikolovska from Eko-svest, North Macedonia.

“What we have learned by being active in the Coal Regions in Transition Platform in EU countries is that this only works if the local communities are involved. Wherever truly participatory processes happened, they brought about not only very useful ideas for the transformation, but also – crucially – buy-in for just transition from the targeted communities themselves,” Alexandru Mustață, Bankwatch just transition coordinator, added.

Notes for the editors:

Read a briefing prepared by the 18 NGOs for the kickoff of the Coal Platform for the Western Balkans and Ukraine: Four principles for a participatory just transition in the Western Balkans and Ukraine – Bankwatch.

For more information, contact:

Alexandru Mustață, Just Transition Coordinator at Bankwatch
Email: alexandru.mustata AT bankwatch.org

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