This case study examines the United Kingdom’s coal transition, which began in the early 1980s amid unfavorable market conditions and the privatization of coal mines and power plants. A 2013 carbon tax, as well as the 2015 government decision to close unabated coal-fired power plants, accelerated the transition process, leading to a near complete phase-out of coal use.
The report analyses the socioeconomic impacts of the transition, focusing on unemployment, high electricity bills for the poor, and low wages for alternative jobs. The author also discusses the policy measures implemented to ease the transition and describes various financial streams, such as the European Union Structural funds, that helped finance the revitalization of coal regions.
The report evaluates those policy measures against their intended outcomes. The measures were considered economically successful (as they provided 180,000 alternative jobs) but failed to meet other social needs. Although they were never designed to be aligned with climate change policies, they have evolved through time in response to political pressures. Some of the measures, such as the welfare benefits for redundant workers, are well embedded in the United Kingdom’s economic model. The report, however, calls for enhanced planning and early warnings of closures in future transitions.