Climate change, decarbonisation and coal regions transition:



 

We present an analysis on the global violet and green wave as one of current global drives, the need to adapt to climate change, and decarbonisation as an urgent task. We propose a cross-border approach based on trust, a deeper exercise of coordination and joint action in order to guarantee a sustainable future for future (and current) generations.

A very interesting analysis on current global drives by Mariam Martínez Bascuñán, political scientist and op-ed director in El País (Madrid), points at a certain “erosion of a specific political order and its truths. The reaction is a great movement of disconnection and withdrawal, the first drastic result of an unavoidable breakdown of globalisation”. However, “the other great drive is the growingly global violet and green wave. In the US go hand in hand with the red of millennial socialism, with feminism as nutrient and an ecological manifesto already known as the Green New Deal. If Brexit rises as a metaphorical culmination of national absorption, a defensive drive stuck in the past, world demonstrations for climate called by adolescent Greta Thunberg represent the other side of the coin. The root of these new colourful waves is certainly illustrated, because they call for new ways of emancipation and questioning of all structures of power. The objective? Create new spaces to claim for justice. Their vitality lies in their demand of changing our moral perceptions, their revolution in the transformation of old value systems. They set themselves up as a new benchmark to renew the claims for justice. Environmentalism aims to reorganize the production system to make it fairer. Feminism sets life, care and interdependency in the centre of this value system. And this is not something abstract. Local signs of these two main drives —emancipation or withdrawal, universalism or Brexit, future or past—“ are growingly seen in many EU cities. Interesting, isn’t it? And food for thought, anyway. A good mixture of Cassandra and Pollyanna. Fortunately, and thanks to these testimonies, climate change is only questioned by those who do not accept scientific evidence. The bad news is that we face a growing number of educated people in our modern societies who question this, or the need to vaccinate children (look at the current outbreak of measles), and other truths that were given for granted by most informed people.

In any case, adaptation to climate change is getting high in most agendas, and also regions are preparing themselves to it. Border regions have to face the need to talk to their neighbours in order to develop joint approaches, and decarbonisation might be an issue of interest for many border regions. A cross-border approach could be very useful in their transition to new energy schemes. Some Euroregions are clearly going in that direction, either exploring traditional renewable energies, such as solar, wind, biomass. Others are jumping into more “sophisticated” sources, such as hydrogen. This, on the other hand, seems to become one of the major energy carriers of the 21st Century due to its versatility (chemical feedstock, fuel and gas), and its alignment with the climate goals set for Europe by 2050, allowing a rapid decarbonisation towards "zero emission" transportation and energy systems at affordable costs. In fact, Europe’s electricity and gas operators are currently working on a joint network plan based on a carbon budget which includes zero-emission scenarios for 2050.

Winter issue (#67) of Panorama, DG Regio quarterly magazine, included an article on “Support for coal regions in transition to sustainable economies” (pages 14-17). The EU is providing support to help coal-producing regions’ economies transit smoothly to more sustainable and greener businesses —providing new opportunities for growth and jobs. You can download or read online this issue of Panorama in all EU languages here.

In this framework the European Committee of the Regions called for a Hearing on the future role of cohesion policy in supporting coal regions in transition, as part of the next meeting of the Coal Regions in Transition Platform and organised in collaboration with the European Commission. This Hearing took place on 9 April 2019.

Another example of the growing focus on decarbonisation is the trilogue (the three-way negotiations between the European Parliament, the Council of the EU, and the European Commission) on the reduction of car emissions. The outcome of those talks, a complicated compromise between the different positions, was voted at the Parliament in Strasbourg on 27 March. It will require auto-manufacturers to have reduced their cars' CO2 emissions in 2030 by 37.5 %, compared with 2021. Their vans' emissions should be reduced by 31 % in the same timescale. The bill also foresees complex incentive schemes to promote the production of zero-emission vehicles.

And we will see more regulations in this direction in the new period of sessions of the European Parliament. Border regions should be prepared to implement necessary changes in the way we have traditionally seen fuel, gas, alternative cleaner sources of energy, how to transport that energy. All of these will need greater doses of trust across borders, a deeper exercise of coordination and joint action in order to guarantee, in common, a sustainable future for future (and current) generations.

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