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EU strides forward on Just Transition, but risks stumbling on fossil fuels

14 January 2020
by WWF -- last modified 15 January 2020

The path to a climate neutral Europe became a little easier today, with the European Commission's proposal for a fund to help regions reach climate neutrality.


The 'just transition mechanism' aims to mobilise up to €100 billion to support workers and their communities in regions whose economies are based on carbon-intensive activities, like coal mining.

The mechanism requires regional just transition plans to be compatible with EU climate and energy goals. This means Member States have no excuse not to sign up for climate neutrality.

However, the mechanism is not clear enough on the need for regional plans to include timelines for the phase out of fossil fuels, including a phase-out date for coal of 2030 or earlier. MEPs and EU Member States must step-up its ambition to deliver a truly just transition.

Katie Treadwell, Energy Policy Officer at WWF European Policy Office said:

"A climate neutral Europe needs everyone to play their part. The proposed just transition mechanism is an important step towards making that happen. But a 'just transition' is not 'just' if regions are locked into unviable fossil fuels. It is not a 'transition' if there is no deadline for getting climate neutral. MEPs and EU Member States must improve the proposal so that regions show how and by when they will get free from gas, oil and coal."

WWF is calling for:

  1. Territorial just transition plans to be underpinned by higher ambition and timelines for fossil fuel phase out
  2. Transparency and the engagement of all stakeholders to be at the heart of the just transition mechanism
  3. The just transition mechanism to exclude all fossil fuel investments from each of its three pillars (see below for more explanation of the pillars)
  4. Since the just transition mechanism alone will not be enough to deliver a just transition, Member States must complement it with national policy and financial support

The European Commission also published today a plan for unlocking €1 trillion of sustainable investments over ten years. The plan contains no new money and is little more than pretty packaging of an empty box in WWF's view.

The European Policy Office helps shape EU policies that impact on the European and global environment.