What do we mean by a just transition for Appalachia?

whitley net zero houseTransition means change. And there is no question that Appalachian communities have already begun a swift and disruptive transition.

A Just Transition for Appalachia means a comprehensive effort to support coal communities and workers as we shift away from a fossil fuel economy to one that is more sustainable and equitable.

A Just Transition:

  • builds resilient communities and a good quality of life in the places most affected by environmental damage and economic disruption
  • creates good, stable jobs that sustain – rather than destroy – the natural systems on which our lives depend
  • seeks genuine involvement and collaboration among affected workers and communities
  • requires significant long-term investment from and partnerships with many places and players

Achieving a just economic transition in Appalachia will be hard. Our current coal-based economy is already characterized by high levels of inequality, unemployment, under-investment in education and infrastructure, and serious environmental and health concerns. Now, with coal production in long-term decline, our region stands to lose a number of its existing good paying jobs.

That's why, as one Appalachian farmer expressed, to be pro-coal miner is to work hard now to create new jobs and businesses to replace lost mining jobs and create opportunities for our chidren.

None of us alone has all the answers. But promising opportunities do exist. Together we can imagine and work for a Just Transition for Appalachia.