What do we mean by a just transition for Appalachia?
Transition 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.
Follow these links to learn more:
Recommended sites and projects:
|KFTC hosted this conference on a just transition for Appalachia in Harlan in April 2013. Visit these pages to learn more about the conference and find lots of great resources on Appalachian Transition.|
Appalachian Transition is a joint project of KFTC and the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development.
Making Connections is a related website created by our friends at Appalshop in Whitesburg, Kentucky.
No shortage of opportunity
"I have a long heritage in these Appalachian mountains … I have witnessed with my own sweat the abundance that can grow on a half acre of land … There is no shortage of opportunity. There is an opportunity to re-learn the skills that sustained our ancestors. We have the ability to produce more food than we could ever need. Our forests are teeming with potential in the form of food, medicine and timber. But we have to live with the land, and not against it.
"It is so important that we act now, because there won’t be a later. There’s not another generation of coal left in Kentucky. We can’t wait until it’s gone. We can’t sacrifice another stream or another acre of forest. We can’t continue to kill ourselves just to make a living."