SUMMARY: As the reality of a coal transition and coal power decommissioning draw nearer, South Africa’s just transition plan is both urgent and glaringly absent. There is a pressing need to manage the impacts of the transition on workers and local economic development, particularly in coal-dependent regions and affected communities. This policy brief speaks to the current policy vacuum, proposing steps to address it. It considers the implications of the coal transition for employment in South Africa, with reference to national policy and available research. It then seeks to characterise the key issues, points of contestation, and the current just transition/employment policy vacuum.
KEY FINDING / RECOMMENDATIONS: South Africa is in critical need of a just transition plan to manage the process of the coal transition. This policy brief makes three propositions how to move forward. 1) A credible fact base must be established by facilitating collaboration between researchers from different stakeholder groups. A significant amount of work has been done on just transition jobs by the government, research organisations, labour unions, civil society organisations.All the known and unknown facts about the coal transition should be mapped and made widely accessible. 2) The political trade-offs must be clearly defined. A robust process of engagement across levels of government and across stakeholders shouldidentify these trade-offs and unpack the socio-economic costs and benefits. 3) The hard decisions must be followed up with decisive action. While the coal transition is inevitable, support for vulnerable workers and communities is not. This requires movement between stakeholders with different priorities and rationales.