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PRESS RELEASEDecember 15, 2022

Just Transition Away From Coal to Attract Investment, Create New Jobs in Poland

WARSAW, December 15th, 2022 – Efficient repurposing of post-mining lands can improve the economic attractiveness of Polish coal regions, unlock the creation of new jobs, and play an important role in the country’s energy transition. These are some of the key findings of a series of World Bank reports presented during a conference on Thursday.

The reports summarize the technical assistance project “Support for Polish Coal Regions in Transition”, a two-year engagement focused on just transition that was realized in partnership with the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Energy (DG ENER).

“Poland needs to invest in green energy and just transition if it wants to increase its energy security, keep energy prices at reasonable levels, ensure continued high competitiveness of Polish firms, and contribute to the fight against climate change”, said Marcus Heinz, World Bank Resident Representative for Poland and the Baltic Countries. “We stand ready to partner with the Polish authorities, both at a national and regional level, to continue developing a comprehensive approach to energy transition organized around three focus areas: governance, people and communities, and repurposing of former mining land”.

Poland has up to 800,000 hectares of post-industrial and post-mining lands, often located near city centers with access to key energy and transport infrastructure. Despite these advantages, some investors avoid investments in these brownfield lands, fearing higher costs and complicated regulations, and instead choose greenfield locations for their enterprises.

In order to facilitate the repurposing of post-mining lands, World Bank experts conducted a legislative review of Poland’s land recultivation framework and piloted the first Polish use of an innovative Land Use Repurposing Application (LURA), a novel software used for assessing and optimizing the potential future uses of post-mining lands.

“Proper management of post-mining lands is one of the three pillars of the World Bank’s new approach to the process of just transition”, said Wolfhart Pohl, Lead Environmental Specialist at the World Bank. “Demonstrating that brownfields can be repurposed to generate revenue streams and creating a system of incentives for investing on post-mining lands, including de-risking and enabling regulations, would allow the transformation of neglected lands into assets that support the economic transition and lead to job creation”.

Assisting workers in the coal value chain, and coal-dependent communities more broadly, through re-employment and social assistance, is the second key element of the World Bank’s approach to just transition.

According to World Bank analyses and interviews with 3,500 mine and power plant workers and 800 workers residing in the most affected nearby municipalities in three coal regions in Poland, Silesia, Lower Silesia, and Eastern Greater Poland, coal sector employees would prefer to find a job that offers tasks similar to their current duties, appreciate job stability and would generally prefer not to change their place of residence or even commute. A local economic development approach is thus called for, to attract new investments and alternative employment, with effective and job-rich repurposing of the mining assets as one natural entry point.

Through the project, World Bank experts supported public authorities with analyses of the expected financing gap resulting from the coal phase-out and the development of tools designed to increase economic diversification of regions, as well as advice on an efficient country-specific governance model, which is the third pillar of the World Bank’s just transition methodology.

The World Bank has decades of experience supporting countries in their transition away from coal. Since 1995, the Bank has provided more than $3 billion to support governments in closing uneconomic coal mines and power plants. Today the Bank’s focus has shifted to managing a Just Transition that safeguards people, their jobs, and incomes in affected communities, and addresses the environmental legacies of many decades of coal mining. The World Bank Group has not financed a new coal-fired power plant since 2010 and has no active coal-fired power generation project in its pipeline.



Filip Kochan


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