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Phasing out coal, sustaining coal communities? Living with technological decline in sustainability pathways

Journal Article

In this short discussion paper, we discuss recent attention towards the phase out of coal in the UK and associated understandings derived from the field of sustainability transitions. While, the recent focus on destabilisation of unsustainable technologies in this field is important, we raise concerns that there is the risk of insufficient attention regarding the broader implications of such discontinuity processes around the impacts on local coal communities and future prospects of the workforce. We exemplify this, with a discussion of some concerns raised in the responses to the 2016 UK coal consultation, where issues surrounding the future of communities situated near coal facilities have been highlighted. In the final section, we discuss these kinds of issues in relation in the context of the ‘just transition’ advocated by parts of the trade union movement as well as perspectives on deindustrialisation and community cohesion and identity.