Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Friday took his government’s very high-profile pledge to stop the exploitation of lignite in the country – within this decade – to the national epicenter of “brown coal” mining and burning, namely, northwest Kozani prefecture.

The specific prefecture in the western Macedonia province has for decades hosted a handful of lignite-fired power stations, as practically all of Greece’s known lignite deposits are found – and strip-mined – there.

During a marathon session with local office-holders, Public Power Corp. (PPC) union representatives and sector-related researchers, Mitsotakis reiterated that his center-right government is “absolutely committed” to a “fair” green transition from lignite use in western Macedonia.

A policy of “de-lignitization” will be accompanied with seven billion euros in public and private sector funding for the region, he promised.

In response to numerous concerns and reservations aired during the meeting over the time-table for eliminating lignite use, Mitsotakis countered that “this is not simply the right choice, it’s the only choice,” adding that his government took this milestone decision in 2019 before many other countries.

The Mitsotakis government has recently come under sustained criticism that it decided to eliminate lignite too quickly as a power generation fuel, especially amid the current and almost world-wide energy price surges.

In terms of still state-controlled PPC, he said the utility will continue to have a strong presence in Kozani prefecture, and will retain its public character.

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