Viable transition?

The study stated that the scale of deployment of renewable energy required raises serious questions about the viability of a transition path that depends solely on local renewable energy jobs for coal miners.

“This is true at both the local level where several GWe of installed capacity would be required per coal mining area and in aggregate where several times national capacity would be required just for absorbing mining jobs in areas suitable for renewable energy deployment. This means, in practical terms, not all coal miners may be able to transition to solar or wind jobs locally even in areas with suitable resources,” said the study.

There are numerous international organisations like the International Labour Organisation and International Renewable Energy Agency which claim that green jobs (like solar and wind jobs) can replace fossil fuel industry jobs. For instance, the ILO estimates that around 24 million green-jobs including renewable energy jobs, could be created worldwide by 2030 if governments take action to limit warming to 2 degree celsius.

Another report by the International Renewable Energy Agency’s (IRENA) said that renewable energy could employ more than 40 million people by 2050. It said that total energy sector employment can reach 100 million by 2050, up from around 58 million today should the international community utilise its full renewable energy potential.

“While solar jobs could be the answer in some coal mining areas, policymakers would need to focus on a variety of industries including both renewables and non-renewables to help coal miners make an employment transition locally,” the study said. The study said that one innovative solution would be to provide coal miners with alternate jobs.

“The government needs to present an example of moving people from fossil fuel-based industry to renewables. Right now, the government is not targeting the people involved in the fossil fuel-based industry while running these skill programmes. Moreover, they need to look beyond renewable power sector jobs and reskill them in terms of alternate jobs,” Rakesh Kamal, an independent climate negotiations expert and host of the podcast, Climate Emergency, told Mongabay-India.

Sandeep Pai also cautioned that “globally, researchers and policymakers need to think beyond renewable energy jobs for fossil fuel workers.”

This post first appeared on Mongabay. We welcome your comments at

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