Study: Coal transition can impact over 13 mn people’s livelihood in India
India entered an agreement at the recently concluded COP26 at Glasgow to a clause in the ‘Glasgow Climate Pact‘ that calls for a phase-down of unabated coal transition power while recognizing the need for support towards just transitions.
The coal transition has formed the basis of the study to assess the ‘Socio-economic impacts of coal transition in India’. The reports released on Monday have said that at a conservative estimate, more than 13 million people employed in coal mining, transport, power, sponge iron, steel, and bricks sectors will be impacted due to the impending coal transition.
The coal transition could possibly have the highest impact on the people in the states of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, and Telangana, the study by the National Foundation for India (NFI), a think tank, and launched by Secretary, Ministry of Coal, Anil Jain said.
Jain said, India needs to prepare its economy, its workforce, and its communities for a post-coal future, and “that planning needs to begin today”.
When India slowly phases out coal in these districts, it will surely have political, social, economic, and financial consequences, especially for communities where coal mining has been a way of life for the past 200 years.
The Glasgow Climate Pact also recognized that there is a need for accelerated action in this critical decade, on the basis of the best available scientific knowledge and equity, reflecting common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities in the light of different national circumstances and in the context of sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty.
“I really liked the idea of defining a coal transition worker that NFI introduces in their research. We need to identify the people, whose lives and careers will be impacted when the transition happens, such that there is some quantification and targeting. It will give relief to local people and bring unions on board. Hence, it is not just a number but lives, which are in focus for this international (Glasgow) agreement. This will help in quantifying the magnitude of the problem in many senses,” Jain said as he launched the study.
Executive Director NFI, Biraj Patnaik, said: “Some of India’s most marginalized communities have suffered from the resource curse for close to a century. As we move towards a more climate-resilient future, we must make sure they do not suffer the double whammy of an energy transition that leaves them behind yet again. Our report from Phase-I of our work on climate change tells us that India has to develop its own idiom and approach to climate change and just transition.”
The NFI study assessed there are 135 districts in India that have two or more assets dependent on coal, i.e., a coal mine, thermal power plant, sponge iron plant, or a steel plant which are vulnerable to a coal phase down.
More than 70% of all power produced in India comes from coal-fired power plants. Coal is also a source of considerable taxes and royalties to governments at all levels and, of course, provides many people with jobs and livelihoods.
Noting India’s commitment to attaining net-zero by 2070, the report said that given the target date of 2070, and endorsements on clean technology, the mines which produce 85 percent of the coal in the country will likely be running for the next 20 to 30 years.
[With Inputs from IANS]
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