Thursday, 22 October 2020

Forum for Transition to Post Lignite Era


Forum for Transition to Post Lignite Era

Athens, 22 October 2020 /The online forum “Western Macedonia-Megalopolis: Transition to the post lignite era and new business opportunities” was organized today – with great success – by Enterprise Greece and the Steering Committee for the Just Transition Development Plan. The forum comes under the supervision of the Ministry of Environment and Energy, as well as, under the Ministry of Development and Investments.

Delignification is a significant change in the national energy map and at the same time, consists a huge opportunity for the country. The bet, through this process, is the shift to clean forms of energy and to a new era of sustainable development that respects the environment, follows modern market trends and offers new opportunities in various sectors of the economy, while taking into consideration the particularities and comparative advantages of local communities. The Forum aims to promote the Just Transition Development Plan of the Region of Western Macedonia and the Municipality of Megalopolis in the post-lignite era, providing aid and tax incentives for enterprises in the field of agricultural production, manufacturing and services, as well as, in the field of research- technology development, education and energy (renewable resources, energy upgrading).

The Forum was addressed by the Minister of Environment and Energy, Mr. Kostis Hatzidakis, by the Minister of Development and Investments, Mr. Adonis Georgiadis, the Regional Governor of Western Macedonia, Mr. George Kasapidis and Regional Governor of Peloponnese Mr. Panagiotis Nikas.

Mr. Vassilis Antoniades, Managing Director and Senior Partner at BCG (Boston Consulting Group), Regional Leader of Financial Institutions in CEMA (Central Europe Middle East and Africa) and Dr. Panagiotis Prodzas, Principal, Head of Business Consulting, Grant Thornton, presented alternative proposals for the post-lignite era, while the plan for the Just Transition Development in the post-lignite era for the regions of Western Macedonia – Megalopolis was developed by Mr. Kostis Moussouroulis, Coordinator of the Just Transition Development Plan of the lignite areas, of the Region of Western Macedonia and the Municipality of Megalopolis and Chairman of  the Steering Committee, and Mr. George Stassis, President and CEO of the Public Power Corporation (PPP).

The Chairman of the Board of Enterprise Greece and Secretary General for International Economic Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Gregory Dimitriadis, referred to the “Just Transition Development Plan  of lignite areas” and the attraction of investments in important economic sectors in the region of Western Macedonia and Megalopolis.

The Minister of Environment and Energy, Mr. Kostis Hatzidakis stated: “Delignification is not something new. It had started in Greece in recent years only it was done in an uncoordinated manner and with no compensatory benefits to local communities. It is now accelerated due to environmental and economic reasons and in a coordinated manner. Our aim is to attract green investments – related to energy sectors – in the lignite regions, and create jobs relying on EU and national funding amounting to 5 bn EUR. European Commission will soon be notified of the specific tax incentives.There are at least 80 investment projects to be evaluated, therefore we are talking of a strong investment interest, out of which 16, stand out as the most promising. Only by joining forces, will be able to see dramatic changes in the investment sector”.

The Minister for Development and Investments, Mr. Adonis Georgiades, stated: “According to Prime Minister’s Kyriakos Mitsotakis decision, by 2023, all lignite power plants, except one, will cease operations. When this decision was made, there were reactions from the people who thought their lives were endangered or even ruined. These reactions are wrong and will prove with our work that these people were concerned for all the wrong reasons.  We are ready to present them with a life-changing sustainable development plan that will improve their lives for the better.

In all fairness, delignification process began in Greece many years ago. Between 2010 -2020 the percentage of energy produced from lignite in Greece fell by 50%, With no government decision, lignite in Greece,  would be extinguished, over the next decade, because it was no longer profitable for Public Power Corporation, and from cheap fuel, it became the most expensive fuel. If it was left to fate, the factories would stop producing and people would be left without jobs. With government’s decision, Greece is now becoming a leader and is the first country to access European funding, national resources, bank loans, all targeted to one purpose: The conversion of a carbon-based economy of Western Macedonia and Megalopolis, into a sustainable economy, with renewable energy sources, with agricultural production, with research on technology.

Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ administration has presented, in public consultation, the Masterplan for 2021 operations. Our negotiations with the European authorities continue, so as from January 1st, 2021, will be able to implement this master plan that will create thousands of new jobs, attract significant investments in lignite regions and change people’s lives, improving their quality of life, since lignite work is responsible for contamination of the atmosphere and the environment. So, is the dawn of a new era, an era of sustainable development, a new era for everyone.

Mr. Kostis Moussouroulis, Coordinator of the “Just Transition Development Plan of lignite areas” of the Region of Western Macedonia and the Municipality of Megalopolis, and Chairman of the Steering Committee, stated: “The Just Transition Development Plan of lignite areas” aims to overturn the idea that has been established for decades on the dependence on lignite, the absolute focus on its related activities and the lack of interest for the next day. This reversal thinking is dictated by environmental and economic reasons and reasons related to people and their quality of life. We trust the people and we strongly rely on their contribution. We proceed with this plan with the people and for the people. We have ensured sufficient funding and with economic measures we aim to attract investments. There are provisions for land restoration and spatial planning. We have put in consultation a strategic, comprehensive and development plan. According to our beliefs, the prefix “co” that stands for cooperation, coherence, collegiality and consensus consists a great asset for us. Todays business forum is a part of that belief. Aiming at enriching the Plan at all levels and aspects, we examine whether the interest for investments coincides with its principles, guidelines and priorities.

I hope my proposal activates Enterprise Greece in the transition areas and becomes a reality. Because we need mechanisms to attract, host and support investors from start to finish and to simplify the terms and conditions for access not only to incentives but also to business parks that will develop in the restored territories. At this point, I would like to thank warmly Enterprise Greece for its support and contribution.

Mr. Gregory Dimitriadis, Chairman of  the Board of Enterprise Greece and Secretary General for International Economic Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, concluded: “ Today’s important initiative gives me the opportunity to emphasize that Enterprise Greece is present and ready to undertake a series of actions in order to support the enterprises in the region of Western Macedonia and Megalopoli in their development and realization of their investment plans as well as the enhancement and promotion of their exports of Greek products”.