Phasing out coal – a just transition approach was released as a Working Paper by the European Trade Union Institute in April – the latest of several publications on the topic by ETUI Senior Researcher and ACW associate Béla Galgóczi . Following a summary of the role of coal in the European economy and the current employment structure of the broader coal sector, the paper provides an up-to-date summary of energy policies and just transition policies in France, Germany, Poland and Spain, and also looks at lessons learned from past phase-out experiences in the Ruhr Valley of Germany, Hazelwood coal plant in Australia, and ENEL, Italy. He notes that a clear distinction should be made between hard coal regions, like the German Ruhr or Silesia in Poland, which are strongly-industrialized regions with a high level of urbanization and a greater economic diversity, and brown coal regions such as German Lusatia or the Polish Lodzkie region, which are rural areas with low population densities and employment concentrated in the mining and energy sectors. The paper concludes that successful just transition requires, amongst other things: specific and targeted just coal transition policies with government involvement at the central and regional level; a properly-funded, specific mine closure agency, or a specialized agency for employment transitions for several years; individualized active labour market policies and personal coaching; and active EU-level financial support.
The author has made similar arguments in a 5-page ETUI Policy Brief, From Paris to Katowice: the EU needs to step up its game on climate change and set its own just transition framework (2018), and in his detailed report published by the ILO in October 2018 : Just Transition Towards Environmentally Sustainable Economies and Societies for All, previously summarized in the WCR.