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This episode is about what a 'just energy transition' looks like in Romania. The EU is now putting a lot of money into it’s new Green Deal and other initiatives to support a just energy transition. Today, we are going to learn what this all means by speaking with Roxana Bucata, a Romanian journalist and a student at Central European University. She has done research on this topic in the context of the Jiu Valley in Romania.
The Jiu Valley, is the oldest coal region in Romania. It is one of the 18 coal regions in Europe that joined the EU’s Just Transition Platform that oversees alternative and sustainable projects for the communities. Over 750 million euros are expected to be invested in Jiu Valley over the next seven years through the Just Transition Mechanism, part of the EU’s Green Deal.
We speak to two people active in the revitalization of the Jiu Valley. First, Alexandru Mustata of Bank Watch Romania. Bank Watch became the interface between local community and the EU. The European Commission was informed of the local initiatives and soon a direct communication and collaboration between Brussels and Jiu Valley started.
The second speaker is Mihai Danciu, an architect and part of the Planeta Petrila Association. Danciu and artist Ion Barbu started the association with the aim of reclaiming the mining heritage for the community. The idea is that coal mining is part of the cultural identity of Jiu Valley. So their vision is to use the mining heritage – former buildings, railroads, miners neighborhoods, etc. – for new projects, in an effort to revitalize the area.
This episode provides the context to begin to understand the long history of a region and how energy transititons are wrapped up in the deindustrialization of regions along with broader socio-economic changes. The answers seem to be from the bottom, within communities, rather than money funneled from the top-down to local politicians.