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China’s Coal Cap Policy Will Create More Clean Energy Jobs

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Originally published on NRDC.

China’s national policies to control coal consumption can lead to greater and better employment opportunities in China’s power sector and related industries, according to a new study released today by the China Coal Cap Project, a joint initiative of academic, governmental and non-profit researchers. The study analyzes the overall employment benefits of establishing a national coal cap policy starting in China’s 13th Five Year Plan, which begins next year.

“If a national coal cap policy is implemented, the renewables, clean energy and energy efficiency industries will create many more new jobs than those lost in the traditional coal mining and coal-intensive industries,” said Dr. Pan Jiahua, Director of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences’ Institute for Urban and Environmental Studies. “And most of the newly created jobs are decent jobs with better working environment and higher technical skills, to replace low quality unstable ones.”

Coal cap policies will most heavily impact the power sector. Jobs in the coal-fired power industry will decrease, while those in alternative energy – wind, solar, hydro, nuclear, and biomass – will continue to increase. Because the wind and solar industries require more employees in installation, operation and maintenance than the coal-fired power industry, coal cap policies will increase overall employment opportunities and skilled jobs in the power sector as a whole.

“Our research shows that you can reduce pollution while creating new jobs and increasing economic security,” said Dr. Yang Fuqiang, Senior Advisor on Energy, Environment and Climate Change for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). “Advancing energy efficiency, wind, solar and other clean energy will do far more for China’s employment rates than the coal industry, which requires fewer workers by the day.”

New research and development of energy saving technologies will also create many new technical and service jobs in energy efficiency services. The study projects that by 2020, energy efficiency services required to meet a national coal cap in the building, iron and steel, and cement sectors will create 300,000, 450,000, and 390,000 new jobs respectively, bringing hundreds of thousands of direct new jobs and millions of indirect jobs to the market.

Capping coal consumption will also bring huge investments into clean energy development, benefiting service sectors such as finance, consulting, insurance, commercial weather service, environmental protection, education, and media. The expansion of these service sectors is expected to drive significant indirect job growth, providing citizens in urban and rural areas with more and better jobs.

Conversely, Chinese and international experience show that there is no clear correlation between coal consumption and overall employment because improvements in technology and efficiency will cause employment in coal production and coal-intensive industries to shrink naturally, even in the absence of coal-cutting policies. And while coal consumption policies will curb coal mining and related transportation jobs, it will replace these low quality, dangerous jobs with high quality, sustainable jobs in clean energy production and technology.

About the China Coal Cap Project:

As the world’s largest coal-consuming country, China not only faces domestic challenges from smog and other severe environmental pollution, but also international pressure on carbon emissions reduction. These circumstances provide a clear requirement for China’s future mid- and long-term energy transition: a total coal consumption cap.  As such, NRDC, along with over 20 leading Chinese stakeholders, including government think tanks, research institutes, and industry associations, jointly launched the China Coal Consumption Cap project in October 2013. The project aims to develop a comprehensive roadmap and policy package for establishing and implementing a binding national coal consumption cap that aims to help China peak its coal consumption by 2020. Accelerating the replacement of coal with energy efficiency and cleaner energy sources will fundamentally help China achieve its long-term economic, environmental, and climate goals. To learn more about the project, please visit:

Reprinted with permission.

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