The coal industry is facing significant job losses, with over 400,000 mining jobs expected to vanish by 2035, equivalent to nearly 100 workers per day. This impact is foreseen even without climate pledges or policies to phase out coal.
Market Shift to Renewable Energy
The primary reason behind this trend is the growing shift towards cheaper wind and solar power generation. Additionally, the lack of adequate planning to manage the transition to a post-coal economy exacerbates the situation.
This information is derived from a report compiled by Global Energy Monitor, a US-based NGO that specializes in analyzing the evolving international energy landscape.
Hardest Hit: China and India
China and India are expected to bear the brunt of these job losses. China's Shanxi province will experience the most substantial number of job losses globally, with 241,900 by 2050. Coal India faces the largest potential job cuts of 73,800 by mid-century.
Climate commitments to phase out coal power generation could accelerate these job losses, even as employment in renewable energy and construction surpasses 50% of total energy employment.
Coal mining jobs play a crucial role in remote coal regions, acting as anchors of economic activity and sustaining ancillary workforces and employment in local consumer and information economies.
Global Distribution of Workers
The majority of these coal workers are in Asia, with 2.2 million jobs in the region. China and India are expected to be most affected by coal mine closures.
Governments need to play a role in planning for coal worker transitions, as demonstrated by the potential layoffs in state-owned enterprises like Coal India.
The report emphasizes the importance of viable transition planning to mitigate economic hardship and social strife for coal workers and their communities.
Reducing Coal's Environmental Impact
Putting workers first on the agenda is crucial to ensuring a just transition for coal miners and their communities as the world moves towards a clean-energy economy.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) highlights that the electricity sector's emissions, primarily from coal, contribute significantly to carbon dioxide emissions.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stresses the need for a 75% reduction in global coal use by 2030 to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
At the UN climate talks in Glasgow in 2021, countries agreed to phase down coal power and phase out "inefficient" fossil fuel subsidies, marking a significant shift in climate policy.