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Low-carbon transition in a coal-producing country: A labour market perspective


  • Baran, Jan
  • Szpor, Aleksander
  • Witajewski-Baltvilks, Jan


The decarbonisation of energy in a coal-producing country involves phasing out the coal sector and reducing employment in coal mining. Our case study of Poland reveals that in the past, half of the workers that left the mining sector failed to move to other sectors and left the labour market. This could be explained by the lower education levels of miners and lower wages in other sectors relative to mining. We use a mathematical model to demonstrate that if ex-miners fail to move to green or neutral sectors, decarbonisation involves a net loss of the labour force, regardless of the number of jobs created in the green sector. The loss of labour constitutes a macroeconomic cost that must be added to changes in energy system costs. The size of the cost does not depend on whether reduction of emissions is achieved by the substitution of coal with renewable energy sources or by an increase in energy efficiency. The size of the cost is largest when the reduction of emissions is achieved by replacing coal with imported gas. Finally, we demonstrate how costs related to the imperfect transition of labour could be taken into account in numerical general equilibrium models.

Suggested Citation

  • Baran, Jan & Szpor, Aleksander & Witajewski-Baltvilks, Jan, 2020. "Low-carbon transition in a coal-producing country: A labour market perspective," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 147(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:147:y:2020:i:c:s0301421520305930
    DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2020.111878

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Jan Frankowski & Joanna Mazurkiewicz & Jakub Sokolowski, 2021. "The coal phase-out and the labour market transition pathways: the case of Poland," IBS Working Papers 01/2021, Instytut Badan Strukturalnych.
    2. Sokołowski, Jakub & Bouzarovski, Stefan, 2022. "Decarbonisation of the Polish residential sector between the 1990s and 2021: A case study of policy failures," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 163(C).
    3. Joanna Krzywda & Dariusz Krzywda & Armenia Androniceanu, 2021. "Managing the Energy Transition through Discourse. The Case of Poland," Energies, MDPI, vol. 14(20), pages 1-23, October.
    4. Witajewski-Baltvilks Jan & Boratyński Jakub, 2021. "Workers or Consumers: Who Pays for Low-Carbon Transition – Theoretical Analysis of Welfare Change in General Equilibrium Setting," Central European Economic Journal, Sciendo, vol. 8(55), pages 231-245, January.

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    More about this item


    Just transition; Coal phase-out; Macroeconomic costs of transition; Labour immobility;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • Q43 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Energy and the Macroeconomy
    • Q52 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Pollution Control Adoption and Costs; Distributional Effects; Employment Effects
    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity


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