Phasing coal production down is inevitable if we are to reach Net Zero goals by 2070. But doing this is fraught with many challenges. One major concern relates to hundreds of thousands of workers employed in coal mines across the country whose livelihoods would be under serious threat once operations are scaled down.

A very significant report last month examined the possibility of a just transition happening if right policies are pursued. The study was conducted in Jharkhand, which has 113 operational mines that account for over one-fourth (26 per cent) of all coal mines in India. The State generates over 115 million tonnes(mt) of coal every year and provides direct jobs to nearly 3,00,000 people, 38 per cent of all such jobs in the country.

The study was conducted by Climate Trends LLP, in partnership with Ernst & Young LLP in the five districts of Ranchi, Dhanbad, Ramgarh, Chatra and Bokaro amongst 6,000 coal workers. Of these, 4,000 workers were from the organised sector (thermal power plants and mines), and 2,000 were unorganised workers. About 26 policy and sectoral experts were included. The idea was to seek workers’ views on how to transition away from coal to clean energy.

This resulted in the report, “Livelihood opportunities for a Just Transition in Jharkhand” which provided crucial insights and recommendations for policy intervention that is inclusive for all stakeholders.


So, what were the key findings? Significantly, 85 per cent of those interviewed were willing to participate in skilling or reskilling programmes. However, 94 per cent of the respondents had never participated in a training programme, which points to a gap in upskilling planning.

In fact, of the 6 per cent who had received any training for alternate livelihoods, only 24 per cent were trained for renewable energy. And surprisingly, six out of ten workers had not even heard of the fact that mines could be drawn down in the future.

When offered choices of an alternative livelihood in the survey, 32 per cent workers favoured agriculture and allied sectors as their first choice, 30 per cent manufacturing sector as their second choice, and 27 per cent chose mining of other minerals as their third choice.

The report is very comprehensive and cites best practices from several countries. If India wants to be among countries attempting a ‘just’ transition, it should take serious cognisance of such reports. )