What does a just energy transition mean?

As the first of the country’s six coal regions to start planning its coal phase-out, Eastern Greater Poland is the undisputed leader in Poland’s just energy transition. For 80 years, the region’s industry has revolved around lignite, but Eastern Greater Poland has ambitions not only to change the status quo with regard to coal, but also to serve as an example for the rest of the nation. Grass-roots projects lie at the heart of their new approach to energy.

Restart Lab is a social workshop set up in a former steelwork vocational school in Konin. It is designed as an open space for people aged 16–40 to work together as a group. “Our goal is to allow residents to acquire new competencies. Both hard skills, like programming or tailoring, and the soft skills of teamwork, project planning, idea implementation,” says the studio’s co-founder, Jarosław Koźlarek, President of the Green Future Institute Foundation [Fundacja Instytut Zielonej Przyszłości] and project coordinator for the Just Transition of Eastern Greater Poland.

“Our goal is to create a friendly, informal place that’s open to anyone,” continues Jarek. “We want to make a melting pot here, to mix business with art and culture. To start a synergy that will benefit the inhabitants.” The premises were granted for free by the city. An initial investment was made by the foundation, but now Restart Lab is building momentum. Residents bring equipment and materials for creative work. The studio collected money for three 3D printers on which they then printed face shields for doctors during the pandemic. There is also a small workshop for reconditioning used equipment and vehicles. Next door is a pottery workshop and a furniture renovation workshop, then a tailoring workshop. The sewing machines come from the private collection of Agata Koźmińska, a co-founder of Restart Lab and the Green Future Institute Foundation. The machines have already come in handy. During the fires in Australia, workshop members sewed bags for orphaned kangaroos.

Read more: the original article was published here at EnergyTransition.org blog on 7th of September 2021.