Tribune. The debate rages in the corridors of Berlin and Brussels. Should Germany be allowed to compensate coal manufacturers with billions of euros? This country has indeed decided, in 2020, to create a compensation fund of 40 billion euros to support the closure of its 120 coal-fired power stations by 2038.
But that’s not all. More than 4 billion euros more could be paid to energy companies to compensate for this exit from coal, such as the giant RWE, which posted a net profit of 1.21 billion euros in 2020. The European Commission has just opened a is investigating these compensations, expressing doubts as to their justification.
The stake of an exit from fossil fuels is indisputable. But more than the large companies themselves, it is the workers and inhabitants of the regions affected by this transition that national and European budgets must support now. For environmentalists, phasing out fossil fuels must be accompanied by an in-depth transformation combining energy transition and social justice.
If large envelopes are simply used to compensate industrialists blinded for decades by the profitability of polluting energies, and to bail them out to allow them to return to the great laundry of wild capitalism, we will have missed the boat.
A transition monopolized by large industrialists would only serve to step back to better jump, by laundering those responsible for a century of pollution and energy waste.
This aid from backward-looking states cannot claim to be transformation policies. Socially, these are cosmetic. More than support, it is indeed a change of economic and social model that we need, benefiting the territories and their inhabitants more than the shareholders of the large polluting energy groups.
It is this principle of “just transformation” that I am defending alongside the large environmental and social NGOs in Parliament as part of the work on the European Green Deal. The establishment of the just transition fund, making it possible to support areas marked by a strong industrial history, should pave the way for more social and redistributive public policies, as requested by the European Parliament’s Social Affairs Committee.
New sustainable professions
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