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ILO urges measures to mitigate impact of coal phaseout on jobs

Louella Desiderio - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines will need to implement measures to mitigate the impact of its shift away from coal on jobs, according to the International Labor Organization (ILO).

In its report “A just energy transition in Southeast Asia – The impacts of coal phase-out on jobs,”  the ILO said countries like the Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam, need to ensure any phaseout of coal is matched by steps to address the effect on employment.

The ILO identified the three countries as among the five economies with the highest levels of coal consumption in Southeast Asia.

“Indonesia and Vietnam are important coal producers while the Philippines relies heavily on coal imports,” ILO said.

It also said all three are vulnerable to climate change.

“In order to mitigate the negative socio-economic effects of coal phase-out, it is essential that the governments implement just transition policies for affected populations,” said Cristina Martinez, ILO Senior Specialist on Environment and Decent Work.

She said it is important to maintain employment in regions where coal production is concentrated.

“However, this can be a large barrier against a transition away from coal, unless it is addressed specifically through targeted national support for regions affected. Policies that are adapted at the regional and local levels with the aim to create ‘just transition hotspots’ are of vital importance for a human-centred transition away from coal,” she said.

The report said the Philippines was the first country in the region to announce a moratorium on new coal power plants.

The moratorium is seen to put pressure on coal mining in the coming years.

“In the Philippines, a direct effect of the closure of all mines will be a decrease in wages ($26 million in 2017 prices), and an indirect effect will be a decrease of $33 million in wages due to layoffs by suppliers of coal mines,” ILO said.                                                    

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