In Spring 2023, the Reimagining the Economy Project co-sponsored the Future of Coal Regions Study Group with the Belfer Center's Environment and Natural Resources Program, for Harvard students to learn and share knowledge about the challenges facing coal-producing regions, to identify opportunities for overcoming these challenges, and to foster connections and collaborations between students, faculty, and affiliates. The study group focused on coal-producing regions around the world, but the discussion is expected to generate insights applicable to other fossil-fuel-producing regions. The group also undertook a trip to West Virginia where they met a range of stakeholders to understand the local labor market implications of the energy transition.

To address the climate crisis, a timely phase-out of coal power, the single biggest source of global greenhouse gas emissions, is imperative. However, closing coal mines and plants poses economic, and social challenges to the people employed there, their communities, and the economies of the regions in which they live. Helping coal regions develop high-quality, secure employment alternatives will be critical not only for realizing a 'just transition' to a low-carbon economy for these regions, but also for accelerating global progress on climate change. 

Study Group Conveners: Gordon Hanson, Peter Wertheim Professor in Urban Policy; Henry Lee, Senior Lecturer in Public Policy and Director of the Belfer Center's Environment and Natural Resources Program (ENRP); Yingxia Yang, MC/MPA Candidate; Lynn Padgett, MC/MPA Candidate; Keita Matsumoto, MPP Candidate; Weila Gong, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, ENRP