Coal has been at the heart of Europe’s economy for over 100 years. It has introduced considerable economic and social prosperity to communities and has enabled the continent to flourish. Today, the picture is different and although coal still account for around 15% of EU power generation, it is one of the leading generators of CO2, being responsible for around 18% of emissions in the EU alone. In addition to this, coal combustion represents as a major threat to public health globally and is responsible for approximately 23,000 premature deaths in the EU every year.

As emphasised in this discussion paper, transitioning from coal dependency and countering the negative consequences brought by the adjustment is an achievable goal. This paper illustrates that the responsibility of ensuring a just transition lies not only with the front-runners, but with all players. The energy transition, as a proven opportunity for cooperation and development, is one that must be seized by all if the objectives of the EU to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 and comply with the Paris Agreement are to be achieved, especially in the context of COP24.

This publication showcases a number of carbon intensive regions that have proven successful or are currently undergoing transition. With the right support, it is evident from this discussion paper that carbon intensive regions can successfully transition to a low carbon future and lead the way in showcasing the art of the possible by ensuring workers have the opportunities and skills required to take on new jobs, and innovate to drive sustainable and economic growth for their own future.