The Czech government is planning to use money from the Just Transition Fund (JTF) to finance the transition of coal units to gas and subsidise large energy companies owned by the state or Czech billionaires, according to a 40-page document authored by the Czech Ministry of Regional Development and the Ministry of Environment, which was just leaked to Czech media.
The paperwork was reportedly filed to the Czech government October 12. It is meant to become the Czech submission to the European Commission, an indication of how the government plans to spend the Czech portion of the Just Transition Fund.
Alexandru Mustata, CEE Bankwatch Network: “It is outrageous to see that money meant to be spent by coal communities on transforming their economies in a sustainable direction is going to large corporations, without real consultation of the affected people; and that’s it’s planned to be used on gas projects, instead of renewable energy sources. This is in total defiance of the original purpose of the Fund, and something which the Commission should adamantly reject.”
Czech civil society and local communities in coal regions have been mostly sidelined from the planning process so far: there is no meaningful engagement of local actors, while deadlines for submitting projects have been impossibly short.
Zuzana Vondrová, Centre for Transport and Energy: “Civic participation must play a primary role in relieving the Czech Republic of its dependence on the coal industry. The plan for spending the JTF money must be prepared transparently and according to clearly defined criteria, such as sustainability, the rate of creation of quality jobs or the effects on quality of life. Not hearing out the needs of the coal regions and their citizens can result in projects which are a bad match for the regions, prolong their dependency on fossil fuels or benefit dubious actors.”
One of the most expensive projects planned in the leaked document is the replacement of boilers in the chemical plant Lovochemie for 6 billion CZK. The company is owned by Agrofert, the agricultural conglomerate on which prime minister Andrej Babiš reportedly built his fortune.
The document also lists as beneficiaries large Czech corporations like majority state owned ČEZ, Unipetrol – controlled by the Polish government, or EPH holding – owned by billionaire Daniel Křetínský.