While the net effect of China’s $15 billion fund are, not surprisingly, undisclosed to the public, there are many parallels that could be drawn. I am particularly curious about ways to maximize the effectiveness of efforts to retrain fossil fuel workers and any accompanying risks. For example, in major coal producing state West Virginia, a government-backed non-profit called “Mined Mines” promised laid-off coal workers a free 6-month apprenticeship to learn how to program computers. The program was described as a failure and even led to a class action lawsuit.
Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency issued the Affordable Clean Energy Rule which aims to deregulate Obama-era GHG emission standards. While the United States, under current leadership, appears to be headed in the opposite direction, these “just transition” solutions and the hurdles in their path remain relevant on a global level. Indeed, it remains a matter of time before the United States looks to revisit similar solutions.
Longmay, the state coal producer in northeastern Heilongjiang [China], received more than 800 million yuan from the new fund last year to help it deal with coal output cuts and reallocating workers to other jobs, according to a government document. “This isn’t a job, at least not a real job,” said Peng Jianting, 51, who used to earn 3,000 yuan a month working in a coal mine and now earns 500 yuan as a street sweeper.