Published on December 16, 2019

The Just Transition Working Group in the Czech Coal Commission

, Zuzana Vondrova (CDE, Bankwatch)

As the Czech Coal Commission starts its work, one positive development is that it has a working group dedicated to just transition, and NGOs, local municipalities and trade unions are represented in it.
There have been so far three meetings of the Czech Coal Commission since the first one, in late August.
The work of the coal commission is structured on three tracks, each with its own working group:

  • The first working group discusses the timeframe of the coal phaseout – the prospective energy mix and potential to replace coal (scenarios, models, projections)
  • The second working group deals with legislation and utilities – so regulations for individual coal resources and related legal issues
  • The third one refers to just transition – so evaluation of social and economic indicators of the process of leaving coal as a resource

During the most recent meeting of the coal commission, which took place in November, the first working group was tasked with preparing phaseout scenarios for 2030, 2035, 2040, 2045 and 2050.

Those scenarios will evaluate the impact of coal phase-out on power and heat supply, grid stability, greenhouse gases emissions and pollution. It’s a very positive development that a scenario for a 2030 phaseout date will be discussed. Initially, the working group was supposed to file those scenarios until the end of the year, but it seems at the moment there will be delays.

The just transition working group had only one meeting so far, on Nov. 29. Represented in it are people from industry and trade unions, local government from the coal regions and national parliamentarians, scientists, NGOs, the Czech Chamber of Commerce, representatives of the Ministry for Regional Development and of RESTART. The working group has been tasked with preparing an impact study of the coal phaseout in the various coal regions.

In the just transition working group, as well as in the other working groups (NGOs are represented in all three), we want to make sure that the process is serious.

For one, a clear and early coal phaseout date is essential if this process is to be more than a formal one. Essential is also to ensure that the country’s coal regions, which are also the most socio-economically vulnerable, receive significant financial support to allow them to deal with the challenges brought about by coal dependency and the coal phaseout.

People from these regions need to have, from the start, ownership over the process of planning for their future, in order to ensure that any development scenarios are in line with local characteristics and needs and that the most impacted people feel ownership of the process.

The fact that our country has created a coal commission is a welcome development. But that is just the start. The coal commission needs to take its mission of preparing the country for a future without coal seriously, by setting an early coal phaseout date and involving citizens as much as possible in creating alternative development visions for the country’s former coal regions.