WARSAW, 27 January 2021 – The World Bank, in partnership with the European Commission, will assist Poland to ensure a ‘Just Transition’ in the country’s coal regions of Dolnośląskie (Lower Silesia), Śląskie (Silesia) and Wielkopolskie (Greater Poland). The project will focus on enhancing the capacity of coal regions to plan for a Just Transition through job creation, repurposing of former mining lands and stakeholder engagement.
As part of the European Green Deal and its objective to achieve climate neutrality by 2050, the European Commission has created a Just Transition Fund of nearly EUR 17.5 billion. The Fund will support economic diversification in those coal and carbon-intensive regions most affected by decarbonization and help the local workforce acquire new qualifications and skills across the entire European Union. This will also include investments in the deployment of technology and infrastructures for affordable clean energy, as well as investments in regeneration and decontamination of sites and land restoration. Poland is set to be the largest recipient of the Just Transition Fund, with a proposed allocation of EUR 3.5 billion.
“Global knowledge is key in ensuring a successful implementation of Poland’s Just Transition strategies. We hope that, with our joint support of the European Commission and the World Bank, Poland’s coal-mining regions will be better equipped for this transition and more able to utilize the funding for strategic initiatives designed to stimulate local economic development”, says Marek Prawda, Head of the European Commission’s Representation in Poland.
Poland has made impressive progress in decoupling energy growth from economic growth, increasing its GDP seven-fold since the 1990s while decreasing its energy-intensity by 56 percent. Despite this impressive accomplishment, Poland remains one of the most energy-intensive and coal-dependent countries in Europe with almost 90,000 people relying directly on the coal sector for their livelihood.
„In order for the transformation to be effective, it also needs to be just and acceptable for all. Therefore, its impacts, especially social ones, need to be taken into consideration from the very beginning, and all possible instruments need to be deployed to mitigate them”, says Artur Soboń, Secretary of State at the Ministry of State Assets in Poland, Government Plenipotentiary for the Transformation of Energy Companies and Coal Mining.
The World Bank’s support to coal regions in transition draws on lessons learned from current projects in Western Macedonia, Greece, Bulgaria, the Western Balkans and Ukraine, as well as longstanding experience from the Russian Federation, Poland and Romania. The World Bank is advising countries on solutions for decarbonization that are economically viable, tailored to their unique needs, and reflect the latest policy, financial and technological innovations. As part of the “Supporting Energy Transition in Coal Regions” initiative, the World Bank together with the European Commission assists coal regions in developing roadmaps that implement effective policies and strengthen institutional capacities. Ongoing assistance to coal regions can take many forms, spanning a variety of challenges and solutions associated with regional transformation.
"Supporting countries to rebuild their economies by reducing carbon emissions and building a greener future is a top priority of our work in Europe,” says Marcus Heinz, World Bank's Resident Representative for Poland and Baltic States. “We hope that the advisory work of our experts will help Poland better manage the challenges and opportunities of decarbonization. Enabling Poland as well as other economies to pursue a sustainable growth path requires protecting local communities in their energy transition. Coal regions around the world will learn from Poland's experience.”
The European Commission’s support to coal regions in transition draws on a variety of lessons learned from the EU initiative for coal regions in transition. In the framework of the Initiative, the European Commission offers an open forum for a stakeholder dialogue among 34 coal regions from 14 EU Member States and a knowledge hub on transition-related topics. Notably, representatives of EU, national and regional authorities together with social partners representing trade unions, industry, academia and NGOs, share their experiences related to energy transition challenges and discuss possible solutions. In addition, selected EU coal regions receive dedicated technical support in their pathway towards decarbonization.