FES Regional Dialogue SOE launched in October 2020 a new, 8-month program titled “Engaging Political Parties, Trade Unions, and Activists for Socio-Environmental Change” (EPP TU). The energy transition is a difficult, time consuming, yet also pressing issue of our time. The complexities of this issue rise if the main actors lack the necessary knowledge related to these processes. This program aims to address these challenges by enabling young political party members, trade unionists and activists to advocate and argue for a just energy transition in the Southeast European region.
EPP TU offers a variety of educational content, from brief online lectures, to more interactive workshops and trainings. The transfer of knowledge focuses on the policy-making process, including policy-rationales and different stakeholders. While the first portion of the program will be held online until May 2021, we aim to invite participants of the program to an onsite week-long camp for an extensive energy transition and climate change training and networking, if the conditions allow for it.
The last session in the program came by quickly, at least for us. The passed 7 online sessions went great, so we tried to make sure to end on a high note, the diplomatic one! In the anticipation of COP26 later this year, in our last session on in May, we talked about climate diplomacy, a new, but very dynamic concept. By it´s nature, climate diplomacy focuses on preventive action, and is split across several strands on the political level, including implementation of the Paris Agreement, relations between climate change and peace and security, cooperation, advocacy, at least according to the EU frameworks. For this one, we had the pleasure to host Dr. Benjamin Pohl, Head of Programme for Climate and Security at Adelphi, who shared with us the bits and bolts of climate diplomacy, and climate security challenges in SEE region, namely hotspots around river basins, mountain and mining areas.
Adelphi is a leading think-thank and public policy consultancy on climate, environment and development.
With the finish line in sight, our session in April focused on importance of compelling narratives. How do we go from “not in my back yard” attitudes toward renewable energy infrastructure to “please in my back yard”? We spoke about energy journalism and how the use of entry points like air pollution and climate change, fosters the creation of such narratives, and can energy journalism alone ensure them? As always, an interesting topic called for an interesting speaker, and this time it Sven Egenter, Clean Energy WIRE (CLEW), who joined us. CLEW is an independent, non-profit, and non-partisan service provider of Journalism for Energy Transition. For this session we also invited aspiring energy journalists to join us online.
In March, we were super excited to host the CROSSBOW Project (Horizon 2020) in our EPP TU program. CROSSBOW is a project funded by the EC and led by ETRA GROUP. The consortium is made up of 24 different organizations from 13 different countries! Its goal is to take innovative action and generate proposals for shared resources and foster cross-border management of various renewables. The benefits envisioned by the project include enhanced regional cooperation in Southeastern Europe, which is why the project includes not only system operators from SEE but also tech companies and universities in the region. Apart from increased regional cooperation, the project also tackles new challenges related to energy systems' fast digitalization in energy transition efforts.
On February 25th we discussed the successful lobbying case of the German Coal Commission. How did Germans come up with a coal-phase out plan in 6 months, who argued for what, are the TUs ok with this plan? Answers to these and many more questions were delivered by the people who participated. Patrizia Kraft, Energy Policy Coordinator at German’s Trade Unions Confederation (DGB), and Philipp Litz, Project Lead International Coal Transition, Agora Energiewende shared their first-hand experience. The talk emphasized the human-to-human approach. By highlighting social sensitivities, lost social identity and even feelings of betrayal the study session showed that these feelings are universal and are a shared experience. Another key point in the conversation was the very beginning of the transition: how it all started with the activists, translated to the political parties, and then businesses and trade unions, much like we are doing with this project!
For our January session, we picked a topic that is an important instrument for any stakeholder - lobbies: the old, the new, and all the other types that influence energy transition and climate change policymaking. For our first session in 2021, we hosted Pascoe Sabido from Corporate Europe Observatory, a research and campaign group working to expose and challenge the privileged access and influence enjoyed by corporations and their lobby groups in EU policy-making.
Here is a quick wrap up of our topic for December study session. For our topic in this one, we chose to discuss the external dimension of the European Green Deal, as an opportunity or a burden for the Western Balkans. Our speaker for this session was Lisa Fischer, Senior Policy Advisor at E3G. She leads E3G’s efforts to drive the complex changes needed across regulation, infrastructure and finance needed for deep decarbonization of the energy system.For the EU Green Deal first year anniversary, we looked into its external dimension: Fossil Gas and Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism, specifically, what does that mean for this region. We were really happy that some of our participants outside the WB region were interested in the topic as well and joined us and participated in the discussion.
Our second session in the program was in November. This time around we discussed the role of science in just socio-ecological transformation. How can climate change scenarios be used as an instrument in policymaking? For our guest speaker in this session, we invited Thomas Hirsch, Executive Director at Climate and Development Advice, Germany. We were surprised that some countries insisted not to use the IPCC scenarios as the scientific basis of the Paris Agreement. On the other hand, lobbying is quite a prominent feature in energy/climate change matters that it should not be a surprise, so we decided to integrate a session fully dedicated to subtle and not so subtle lobbying activities at a later date in this program.
Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Regional Dialogue Southeast Europe launched a brand new program aimed towards engaging different actors in socio-ecological transformation in the Western Balkans. We kicked off our 8 months program with a study session in October. For this one, we discussed how Europe’s technological (un)development shaped the political and economic plans for the block’s climate neutrality. For our guest speaker in this session, we invited Sonja Risteska, Project Manager for Southeast Europe at Agora Energiewende.
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Bosnia and Herzegovina
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If you would like to have an overview of our study sessions within the EPP TU program, you can download the pdf version here.
»EPP TU is part of our work on just socio-ecological transformation in SEE.