EBRD to play key role in new multi-partner initiative on coal industry transformation

By Vanora Bennett

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125 MW Oslomej power plant, an ex-coal mine reworked as North Macedonia’s first big solar plant.

  • EBRD to lead financing component for multi-partner Platform Initiative
  • Platform Initiative to support transition from coal in Western Balkans, Ukraine coal regions
  • EBRD last week formally endorsed plan to make majority of its investments green by 2025

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), whose Board of Governors last week approved a new five-year strategy that includes plans to make a majority of its financing green by 2025, is to lead the financing component of the new international Platform in Support of Coal Regions in Transition in Western Balkans and Ukraine.

Known as the Platform Initiative, this aims to facilitate the development of strategies and projects to kick-start a timely transition towards a low-carbon and climate-resilient future in these regions that are currently largely coal-dependent. Participants in the Platform Initiative will work together to deliver knowledge on planning and preparing for the transition to coal regions and governments, principally through face-to-face meetings and the Coal Regions Learning Academy. The Platform Initiative will also facilitate ‘matchmaking’ with financial resources where possible, to help identify and implement pilot projects that support the decarbonisation objectives of these regions.

The Platform Initiative, built on the concepts of inclusion, stakeholder engagement and Just Transition, will foster wide stakeholder consultations and dialogue in coal regions, as well as with national governments and private-sector actors. It is envisaged that it will include groups from state, regional and local authorities; coal and coal-based industry; civil society; trade unions and social partners; and academic institutions.

The Initiative has five components of cooperation:

  • Knowledge-sharing platform meetings
  • EU-Western Balkans and Ukraine coal regions twinning
  • A Coal Regions Learning Academy to formally disseminate good practices and support transition
  • Technical assistance for pilot coal regions, supporting regions undertaking transition
  • Financing of transition projects and programmes

The Platform Initiative is the brainchild of multiple international partners. It is led by the World Bank, with political leadership from the European Commission (DG ENER, DG NEAR) and conceptual support on economic transition from the government of Poland, which held the COP24 climate summit presidency in 2018, and within the Platform is represented by the National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management. The Energy Community Secretariat will provide input and ensure the consistency of planned activities in the coal mining regions of the Western Balkans and Ukraine, with national plans related to coal use, if applicable, and reforms of the energy system. The College of Europe in Natolin is the institutional host of the Learning Academy that will transfer knowledge to coal regions and governments and will, alongside the other partners, define and execute the academy’s activities.

The EBRD will lead the coordination on financing, including providing own financing where appropriate, for transition projects and programmes. This does not preclude other partners from financing projects and programmes.

Terry McCallion, EBRD Director for Energy Efficiency and Climate Change, said “We have recently launched our new Green Economy Transition (GET) approach which aims to accelerate the transition to green, low-carbon and resilient economies, and to contribute to achieving a net zero carbon world by 2050. The Platform Initiative in Support of Coal Regions in Transition for Western Balkans and Ukraine fits perfectly with this approach, which recognises the pivotal role of a just transition, knowledge sharing and regional and global partnerships in building a sustainable future. We are therefore proud to lead on the financing component of this initiative.”

The announcement of the EBRD’s role in the Platform Initiative follows the EBRD’s Annual Meeting on 7-8 October, at which the Board of Governors approved the Bank’s new strategic corporate framework running until 2025, which confirms the institution’s green direction for the next five years, and highlights the importance of tackling the social implications of change.

The EBRD Green Economy Transition (GET) approach 2021-2025 aims to make the majority of the EBRD’s investments green by 2025, now the EBRD has met the target of an earlier GET approach to raise the proportion of green investments to 40 per cent from 24 per cent in 2015.

In line with the Paris Agreement and the GET approach, the EBRD’s own just transition initiative, launched this year, aims to ensure the benefits of a green economy transition are shared, while protecting vulnerable countries, regions and people from falling behind. It will do this by combining its expertise on green economy investments with its focus on economic inclusion.

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