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publication April 5, 2022

Global Perspective on Coal Jobs and Managing Labor Transition Out of Coal


Photos: iStock

Despite harmful environmental consequences, coal-based energy production has risen over the past several decades. A new World Bank report explores the challenges of coal mine closure and how to support the transition of affected workers — not only those displaced from mining jobs, but also those employed in other parts of the coal value chain or in coal-dependent communities.

April 5, 2022 — . Although the conflict in Ukraine has increased volatility in global energy markets, the urgency of the coal transition remains unchanged. 

. The developing world has more than doubled its per capita electricity consumption since 1990, driving up global demand for coal.

A new World Bank report, Global Perspective on Coal Jobs and Managing Labor Transition out of Coal, finalized December 2021, reviews these challenges through the lens of five countries.

The report offers recommendations on how governments can prepare for job losses that arise from future mine closure and highlights policies to support workers through the transition period and into alternative employment.

"The new report 'Global Perspective on Coal Jobs and Managing Labor Transition out of Coal' explores what impedes coal phase-out in Indonesia, South Africa, and India. It also draws lessons from past transitions in Poland and the United States, which have already experienced extensive mine closures."


Main Findings

  • Closing coal mines has implications for labor markets beyond mine workers. It negatively affects workers along the coal value chain, hurts local economies reliant on mine workers’ earnings, fragments community well-being and social capital, and squeezes public finances.
  • In some communities, closing mines can create a persistent, destabilizing demand shock as displaced workers struggle to transition to new jobs, because few alternatives are available or workers are unwilling to accept lower-paying options or move to regions with greater labor demand.
  • Lessons from past mine closures illustrate the complexities and risks of inadequate planning, coordination and stakeholder consultation, insufficient investment, and poor policy design. A critical aspect to planning for coal transitions will be laying the foundations for attracting private investment and stimulating private-sector labor demand and business development. This calls for supportive infrastructure and institutions, education curricula aligned with the skill needs of emerging sectors, and a conducive regulatory environment.

Last Updated: Apr 05,2022