Published on January 25, 2019

CEPA & Bankwatch launch criteria for projects in Upper Nitra to contribute towards Just Transition

Priatelia ZEME – CEPA and CEE Bankwatch are today launching a set of recommendations to feed into the Just Transition debate taking place in Upper Nitra and at the national level in Slovakia.

The recommendations come in a context when Just Transition is increasingly becoming a main theme of debate around the energy sector transformation in Slovakia, with the government announcing in December an earlier end to subsidies for electricity production (now scheduled for 2023) and with local communities in Upper Nitra involved in a bottom-up process of rethinking the development of the region since January 2018.

This spring, the Slovak central government is expected to approve an Action Plan for the Upper Nitra Region Tranformation, which is being prepared under the auspices of the deputy prime minister’s office by a private consultancy based on inputs from local working groups and the Association of Municipalities of the Upper Nitra region.

Priatelia ZEME – CEPA and CEE Bankwatch, however, are noting that companies such as HBP are set to gain from the process at the expense of local communities. Therefore, the NGOs are contributing to the national debate by propsing a set of criteria for the selection of projects to be supported in the future under this framework – criteria which would ensure that companies that benefit from any EU funds are committed to a decarbonisation path and also that the will of local communities and their project ideas are seriously considered and supported.

Below are the criteria proposed by the NGOs in the paper launched today:

Criteria for prioritizing projects

– Tailor transformation to regional needs, with an emphasis on broad public participation; activities that do not comply with the partnership principle should not be funded;

– Support projects that lead to a net zero carbon economy;

– Invest in self-government projects, family, small and medium-sized enterprises, and involve local people and civic organizations during the project selection;

– Focus on projects that have positive social impacts, like long-term employment, for example, and enterprises for retraining; and

Support quality work with:

Good wages;

Reliable employment and affordable social protection;

Lifelong learning opportunities;

Safe and healthy workplaces;

An appropriate work-life balance;

Representation of trade unions and bargaining rights.

Criteria for fossil fuel company projects

We propose these criteria for companies with a high proportion of fossil fuels in their energy and entrepreneurial portfolio:

– Fossil fuel companies should be eligible to draw EU funds only after they deliver a decarbonisation plan that is in line with the obligations of the Paris Agreement. The first emission reductions must be measurable already during the implementation of the project supported by EU funds.

– No financial support should be directed to companies planning new extraction or new energy production from fossil fuels, including the purchase or upgrade of existing fossil fuels activities. There is a risk that investment in fossil-fuel infrastructure projects will lead to the construction and prolongation of the lifetime of unnecessary resources that will produce overpriced energy.

– Any support from EU funds to companies involved in the extraction and production of energy must lead to an absolute reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in both the short and long term.

– The reclamation of land affected by mining and coal burning, mining works and the decontamination of buildings in the areas affected by mining should be in line with statutory requirements, funded by the mining company from the provision of reserves so as to comply with the polluter pays principle and public finances. EU funds have not replaced the statutory obligations of private polluters.

Read the paper by CEPA and Bankwatch here.

Photo by Michal Burza/ Greenpeace Slovakia