Even without any additional commitments to phase out fossil fuels, the global coal industry may need to eliminate roughly 1 million jobs by 2050, with China and India suffering the greatest losses, according to a study released on Tuesday.
As labour-intensive mines reach the end of their useful lives and nations switch from coal to cleaner low-carbon energy sources, hundreds of them are anticipated to close in the upcoming decades.
However, the majority of the mines that are expected to close “have no planning underway to extend the life of those operations or to manage a transition to a post-coal economy,” cautioned the American think tank Global Energy Monitor (GEM).
Governments must establish strategies, according to Dorothy Mei, project manager for GEM’s Global Coal Mine Tracker, to guarantee that workers are not negatively impacted by the energy transition.
“Coal mine closures are inevitable, but economic hardship and social strife for workers are not,” she stated.
A total of 4,300 coal mine projects with a combined workforce of around 2.7 million were examined by GEM. It was discovered that more than 400,000 people are employed in mines that would close before 2035.
GEM calculated that only 250,000 miners, or less than 10% of the current labour, would be needed worldwide if plans were executed to phase down coal to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit).
According to GEM estimates, more than 1.5 million people are employed by China’s coal industry, which is the largest in the world. More than 240,000 of the 1 million jobs estimated to be lost globally by 2050 would be in the province of Shanxi alone.
China’s coal industry has already undergone numerous rounds of restructuring in recent years, and many mining communities in the north and northeast are still searching for new opportunities for economic development and job creation in the wake of pit closures.
“The coal industry, as a whole, has a notoriously bad reputation for its treatment of workers,” said Ryan Driskell Tate, the program director for coal at GEM.
“What we need is proactive planning for workers and coal communities … so industry and governments will remain accountable to those workers who have borne the brunt for so long.”
Additionally, a senior bank official has stated that Federal Bank, Kerala’s largest and oldest private sector lender, will fully discontinue funding thermal generating projects by 2030. By 2025, the bank with its Kochi headquarters will reduce its exposure to the thermal power sector by half as a first step toward its decarbonization strategy.