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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."
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.
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.
An agreement between South Africa, European countries and the U.S. includes $8.5 billion in loans and grants to speed up South Africa’s energy transition to renewables. This deal is a Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP) and is designed to catalyze global finance for emerging economies looking to shift energy reliance away from fossil fuels in a way that doesn’t leave people and communities behind. Similar deals have taken place in Indonesia ($20 billion), Vietnam ($15.5 billion), and Senegal ($2.75 billion).
Here’s an excellent example in southeastern Kentucky of how a former mountaintop coal site can transition to an economic engine that creates jobs and clean energy. “This strategy generates clean electricity without placing solar panels in otherwise bucolic landscapes… It also directs decarbonization investment to communities that are feeling the economic impact of coal’s rapid decline.”
On Monday, July 17, Google honored the mother of modern climate science, Eunice Newton Foote, with a Doodle for her 204th birthday. They also featured a group of six women innovators in climate science, and we’re proud to see our own Heidi Binko among them.
Muara Bakah is a village in Indonesia that, like many communities around the world, has been built on a coal economy and is now faced with an uncertain future as the Indonesian government rolls out energy transition initiatives. And also like other communities, the local economy may collapse if it is not accompanied by real efforts to support a just energy transition.
The Swaniti Initiative and Just Transition Fund are proud to present the India-U.S. Just Energy Transition Dialogue, a three-part series of webinars exploring how resource-dependent regions can achieve a just transition. The first session will discuss how local governments and community leaders can effectively utilize central and state government funds in both the U.S. and India, where federal policies have enabled the flow of financial resources to local communities.