Governments must prepare communities for inevitable coal phase out, experts warn

Governments must proactively prepare workers and communities as part of a ‘just transition’ in response to an inevitable phase out of coal mines and power stations, leading energy and climate policy experts have warned.

The international group of researchers has argued that a global phase out of coal, necessary to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, will require governments to engage with coal-reliant communities and workers, to ensure there is a “fair” closure of the fossil fuel industries.
 Hazelwood power station. (Credit: Jeremy Buckingham).

The new research has been published in the journal Nature Climate Change, and has been authored by academics from the Australian National University working in partnership with researchers from the United Kingdom, Germany, India and the United States.

The Australian National University’s professor Frank Jotzo said that the global phase out of coal would have significant consequences for Australia, and it was important that governments worked to avoid the same mistakes made in response to earlier power station closures.

“In Australia, coal use is invariably on the way out, as renewable energy is now the cheaper way of producing electricity from new plants, and Australia’s coal power plant fleet is relatively old. Coal is also being phased down quite rapidly in much of Europe and North America,” Professor Jotzo said.