From 2020-2022, COVID-19 slowed global trade and propelled the world into a recession. As countries worked to revive their economies, many citizens, academics and policymakers rallied for a “green recovery”: calling for a divestment from fossil fuels and a timely boost to clean energy and mobility.
Shifts to renewable energy, as well as the adoption of technologies like carbon capture and carbon offsetting, are seen by many as necessary to reducing carbon emissions and mitigating climate change. However, there is also a worry that some populations will be overlooked or harmed in the process. Without a just transition, coal workers, for example, would lose out when coal was phased out, and Indigenous communities would experience green colonialism as their lands were taken over for renewable energy projects.
Since 2021, with funding from Svenska Postkodstiftelsen (the Swedish Postcode Foundation), EJN’s Green Recovery project has supported journalists in highlighting—and interrogating—the progress their countries have made toward a truly green recovery. Through workshops, webinars, story grants, and e-learning courses, journalists were supported to develop their skills and produce factual, investigative and data-driven stories on this topic.
Most recently, EJN held a workshop on Green Recovery and Just Transition from the 16-18 May in Stockholm, Sweden. The participants gained diverse insights from researchers, policy advisors and an Indigenous Sami journalist, and went on a field trip to a green power plant’s carbon capture project. Their stories have now been published:
- In Kenya, Arnold Ageta Omayio highlighted how tea factories are shifting to cleaner energy, away from wood fuel to solar power and briquettes made from waste sawdust.
- In Indonesia, Dewi Safitri produced a three-part series, looking at how the country falls short of its energy targets, how it measures against India’s success and how it can still meet its plan to phase out coal stations by 2050, despite the challenges in its path.
- In Italy, Rudi Bressa measured the progress of just transition funds and their implementation in the regions of Sulcis Iglesiente and Taranto.
- Jelena Đukić Pejić examined Serbia’s potential phase-out of coal, considering its heavy reliance on lignite and the consequent international help it would need to bear the disproportionate costs of transitioning to clean energy.
- In Malaysia, Li Wei Soon researched the consumer demand for cheaper electricity bills (and therefore, renewable energy).
- In Jordan, Mohammad Ghazal showcased the measures and strategies behind the country’s success in not only meeting but surpassing its energy targets.
- In Bulgaria, Assia Chaneva tracked the legislative progress being made and the necessary laws needed to protect biodiversity and address energy poverty in the nation.
- In Croatia, Matea Grgurinović delved into the necessity of workers’ involvement in a just transition and the barriers to this in countries with weaker labor movements.
- In Ecuador, Isabel Alarcón Peña reported on how hydropower projects have affected local Indigenous communities.
“This project helped spotlight COVID-19 recovery responses, and how green success is measured,” says Charlie Debenham, EJN’s Senior Programme Officer. “It is essential that journalists are as informed as possible on these emerging topics and learn from each other, given that it is their role to communicate these issues to the public.”
Banner Image: The construction of windfarms on Indigenous land in Norway has severely affected reindeer migration paths / Credit: Jørgen Håland via Unsplash.