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Several hundred stakeholders recently attended the Just Transition Platform Conference in Brussels to share strategies and experiences on the just transition process in Europe. Executive Vice-President of the European Commission, Maroš Šefčovič, said "[Coal] regions will be pivotal [in the green transition] – not only because we must ensure this transition is fair for all workers and communities, but also because carbon-intensive regions are home to the industries that deliver critical materials needed for the transition, and coal regions are well placed to become clean energy powerhouses, as they have the right knowledge, skills and infrastructure."
Pennsylvania has updated its definition of “environmental justice areas,” communities that are more vulnerable to climate and health risks and that get special attention from the state. Under the updated policy, Pennsylvania uses 32 indicators to determine an environmental justice area, including exposure to pollution and toxic emissions, traffic volume, and proximity to oil and gas wells. The new parameters better reflect how the mining, oil, and gas industries, which often operate in rural communities, can influence residents’ health and the surrounding environment.
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland has announced $10 million in federal funds to boost mine cleanup efforts in Colorado, a portion of the $16 billion in funds Congress designated for legacy pollution cleanup efforts nationwide.“People spend years dealing with serious environmental and health risks caused by these sites,” Haaland said. “Together we can make these smart investments and build a cleaner and more just future for our children and our grandchildren.”
While solar investment is receiving unprecedented federal funding, it still faces cultural and social barriers in former coal communities. One key, as seen in Wise County, Virginia, is through locals leading the charge to revitalize the economy in their own hometowns. “I’m from the coalfields,” said Emma Kelly, outreach director for Solar Workgroup of Southwest Virginia.. “And you have to understand. Coal mining is not just a job. The coal industry is not just an employer.” Wise County native Matt McFadden’s solar company employer started an apprentice program for local high schoolers that pays $17/hour. “When a lot of parents and grandparents saw that there were benefits for their children,” he said, “thought processes changed.”
In places where smokestacks once belched soot and ash, developers and community organizers are envisioning housing, parks, greenways, offices and retail - and a way to bring back economic vitality and restore the environment in blighted areas. A legal maneuver known as environmental liability transfer is making it feasible for developers to assume responsibility for environmental cleanup and remediation and making sites safe and viable for new use.
Nicole Horseherder has been named a recipient of the 28th Heinz Awards, given in memory of U.S. Senator John Heinz to recognize excellence and achievement in the Arts, Economy and the Environment. Nicole has received the Heinz Award in the category of Environment, for her leadership in energy justice work to protect the water, air and landscapes of the Navajo Nation. She is co-founder and executive director of the nonprofit Tó Nizhóní Ání, which works to protect the aquifers, streams, and land of Black Mesa, Arizona, and to bring power back to Indigenous communities suffering the environmental effects of decades of coal extraction and industry waste. A valued partner of JTF, Tó Nizhóní Ání, is a JTF grantee. Congratulations, Nicole!
It’s rare to see workers installing solar panels on the roofs of homes in West Virginia. Due partly to President Biden's signature climate law, that's slowly changing. Aaron Millner, who works as a crew lead for West Virginia-based Solar Holler, said, "I came here because of the IRA bill that Joe Biden passed.” His conviction is reinforced by better pay and, in his case, health insurance for the first time in six years. And Millner is not alone. Jobs and investments in green technologies across the country have opened up new opportunities for many Americans.
South Africa has long been one of the world's largest consumers of coal. But the country is now in the midst of transitioning its energy supply from coal to renewable sources. On this “Sunday Story,” Radio Workshop brings the story of a coal mining town at the center of this transition to find out what happens to people who've built their lives around coal.
Bonus tax credits are boosting the economics of solar and battery storage on former coal plant sites and nearby land, but developers must forecast local unemployment to limit risks. To qualify, energy community projects must be located in areas with high fossil fuel-related employment and where the unemployment rate is higher than the national average, or in coal communities disproportionately affected by closures, including but not solely in terms of employment.
Indonesia’s Just Energy Transition Partnership was announced last year and aims to use $20 billion over the next three to five years to speed up the nation’s transition from coal to renewable energy. This month, a plan for how to do that was submitted.