Coal heartland ill-prepared for transition

South Africa’s main coal producing province of Mpumalanga, the focus of the country’s $8,5 billion Just Energy Transition Partnership, has received no government funding to help workers and communities find alternative livelihoods, a new study shows.

The province, which accounts for 83 percent of national coal production, will lose 48 500 jobs at power plants and the mines that feed them by 2030 due to closures, Krutham, a South Africa-focused research organisation, said in a report released on yesterday.

Ultimately as many as 120 000 jobs could be affected as companies such as trucking firms service the industry and studies to date have paid little attention to the coal-dependent informal economy, Krutham said. 

Initiatives to prepare workers and communities have to date been mainly donor funded.

“Provincial and local governments do not have a specific budget line that is dedicated to the Just Energy Transition initiatives,” Krutham researchers said in the report.

“There is a clear indication that municipalities do not have a clear understanding of addressing the energy transition.”

South Africa and its north-eastern Mpumalanga province are in focus as the $8,5 billion climate finance pact with some of the world’s richest nations France, Germany, the US, UK and European Union is a prototype for similar projects that are being pursued in Indonesia, Vietnam and Senegal.

 Key to those deals are how coal-dependent communities will be shielded from the impact of the transition. Bloomberg.

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