DOCUMENTARY: Just Transition and Youth Engagement in Greece’s Coal Regions Through the EU Emissions Trading System

Greece is using revenue from the EU’s Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) to embark on a ‘just transition’ in its coal regions. Our documentary highlights some of the initiatives in Western Macedonia, gauges the feelings of locals and assesses the effectiveness of youth engagement.

Due to its heavy dependence on lignite, the Western Macedonia region of Greece, including the cities of Kozani and Florina, has the highest unemployment and youth unemployment rates of all the EU’s coal regions.

In this context, the Association of Active Youths Florina (OENEF) is working to transform despair into hope and action. It aims to empower young people in Western Macedonia through educational, training and intercultural projects using ETS revenues. Young people benefit from these activities, allowing them to develop their soft skills and creativity.

Renewing and re-energising through clean energy

In addition, more than 1,000 pupils have already visited the Training Centre for Renewable Energy Sources, an ETS-funded project run by the Youth Association of Florina. This centre showcases how renewable energy and energy storage is the main alternative to the polluting power plants that are being shut down in Western Macedonia. 

Samples on display of renewable energy systems at the Training Center for Renewable Energy Sources (Filotas). Images: Noemí Rodrigo Sabio, Carbon Market Watch


“I have discovered public speaking skills because I am now able to communicate about [the just transition.”

Rafailia Georgia Stiouki, OENEF member.

“The just transition has to put young people first because it is the youth that will live here during this period of transition.”

Konstantinos Stergiou, Vice president of OENEF.

“A lot of progress still has to be made, especially to phase out the use of coal and lignite in the power sector as soon as possible. And this must go hand in hand with a just transition for the workers. ETS auctioning revenues can and should be used to fund such measures to ensure a fair and a just transition for all.”

Sam Van den plas, Policy Director of Carbon Market Watch.

“ETS resources should especially be channelled to regions that experience the challenges of the [energy] transition. In a way, these revenues belong to these regions which have for more than 80 years been and continue to be with modern renewable energy projects, the energy “heart” of the country.”

Konstantinos Filippidis, President of OENEF

“We see that many of the needs of the regions, like preventing the youth drain, are not covered sufficiently. Even if we see some investment for activities to support the young generation.”

Ioli Christopoulou, Policy Director of the Green Tank.

This story is part of the Human Stories project that aims to reveal how the EU ETS affects people’s lives in the path to decarbonise Europe and how this potential can be further boosted.