The phase-out of coal-fired power generation is crucial for achieving the 1.5- or 2-degree Celsius target agreed in the Paris Agreement. To ensure that former coal regions such as Lusatia are not left behind economically, a successful transition to renewable energies and a climate-friendly local economy is necessary. A recent study published by IKEM used international case studies to examine how a just transition in the regions can be realized.
‘For our study, we examined eight former coal regions in North America, Europe and Australia and interviewed experts on site. Despite different starting points in the regions, we were able to identify six components that a well-organized, inclusive, and just transition can be built on. In addition to support programs and legal instruments, these components also include communicative and participatory approaches aimed at mobilizing local actors as well as building a new self-awareness. Our study concludes that a just transition not only opens new economic opportunities but can also offer a wide range of social opportunities for the regions,’ said Dr. Kathleen Pauleweit, research associate in the departments of Sustainability and Innovation and Energy Law at the IKEM.
Moreover, the scientists at IKEM have developed a ‘Just Transition Toolbox’ for coal and transition regions, which processes the findings of the international case studies for other regions. The toolbox was the foundation of the just transition roadmap for Lusatia, where the coal phase-out is to be completed by 2038 at the latest.
Anika Nicolaas Ponder, head of the Sustainability and Innovation Department, emphasized the importance of international and intraregional knowledge exchange for a successful transition: ‘Lusatia and comparable regions can benefit from the experience and knowledge of other transition regions. Due to the complexity of transition, the knowledge exchange between politics, scientific community, businesses, and the affected population is equally important. It is the only way to develop effective and just solutions and achieve local acceptance for the measures.’
The study was conducted as part of the WindNODE project, which is dedicated to investigating the integration of renewable energy generation capacities, power grids and energy users in the six eastern German states on the basis of digital networking.