This case study examines the coal transition in the Netherlands from 1965 to 1990 in the region of Limburg and discusses the reasons for the transition as well as its socioeconomic impacts. Due to market competition from oil imports and the domestic discovery of natural gas, the country decided to reduce its economic dependence on coal in favor of other energy sources.
The authors focus on the factors that made the transition possible, including the cooperation of labor unions, the presence of alternative employment opportunities (such as in the chemical sector), and particularly the conservative view of then Prime Minister Joop den Uyl, who was convinced that mining was inhumane. The unions foresaw an unfavorable future for coal miners and reached an agreement with state-owned companies for alternative employment. The study analyzes the effect of the measures adopted to accompany the transition. The authors focus on the government’s redevelopment strategies—such as the restructuring of the coal sector, with major mining companies transforming into chemical companies—and the development of new businesses.
The last two sections of the study discuss the return of coal as an imported energy source in the mid-1970s due to the oil crisis, as well as the country’s current struggle to stop coal consumption, which accounts for 12% to 13% of national energy consumption.