Just transition: EU local plans let polluters cling on - WWF analysis

Posted on 03 September 2021

European regions want to reward polluters rather than exclude them as they try to shift towards climate neutrality, WWF analysis reveals.
WWF examined 14 of the local plans being prepared by Member States in application for the EU’s €17.5 billion Just Transition Fund. It found that nine of the plans do not commit to ending fossil gas use by 2035, and eight will not have ended coal or oil shale use by 2030. This contradicts the commitments made in the Paris Agreement to limit global temperature increase to 1.5℃. 

While some of the assessed plans - which come from eight Member States - showed promise, for example on the circular economy, none were an outstanding example of good just transition practice. On the back of these findings, WWF and nine other organisations have written to the European Commission to urge the plans are brought in line with EU climate goals and sustainability and social principles.

“Europe’s most carbon-intensive regions have a unique opportunity to transition to a climate-safe and sustainable future in a socially fair way. The Commission’s duty is to ensure they do not squander it. EU funding must only go to localities which have climate-aligned, sustainable, socially responsible plans in place”, commented Katie Treadwell, Energy Policy Officer at WWF European Policy Office. 

In its analysis of the 14 Territorial Just Transition Plans (TJTPs), WWF also found:

> While plans generally recognise the EU target of climate neutrality by 2050, the 2030 targets at EU and national level are not considered in all cases, and actions are not not always aligned with the updated 2030 target (or the suggested 2030 targets for energy efficiency and renewables. 

> Investment in new fossil fuel infrastructure is included in four of the plans.

> Three of the plans foresee potential new waste incineration capacity, although eight plans include measures to actively increase the circular economy. 

>  Only eight of the plans set out clearly how they will support SMEs, while six of the plans indicate excessive or unjustified support for large enterprises

> None of the plans establish how the Polluter Pays Principle will be respected when making investment decisions.

> Only three plans actively promote measures to tackle gender inequality in employment

Altogether, at least 53 TJTPs are expected to be drawn up, with all 27 Member States contributing. They must be developed in public consultation with all relevant stakeholders, including civil society and local community representatives. The plans can be submitted either as a single country-wide TJTP or several region-specific TJTPs to the European Commission. Most plans are expected to be submitted to the Commission during the second half of 2021, with most being approved by the end of the year.

WWF’s online assessment tool for TJTPs is available for anyone to use here. The methodology and assessments so far are available here

Sarah Azau
Communications Manager, WWF European Policy Office
+32 473 57 31 3
Climate Change College amabassadors visit a coal mine. Svalbard, Norway.
Climate Change College amabassadors visit a coal mine. Svalbard, Norway.
© Miriam Geitz / WWF