About 80% of the world’s current coal reserves will likely need to remain unused to keep global temperatures to the “well below” 2°C outlined in the Paris Agreement.

Countries that export coal and other fossil fuels could face a significant decrease in global demand in the near future, perhaps even within ten years. The mining sector simultaneously has seen rapid technological improvements towards increased mechanisation, suggesting declines in employment and changes to regional coal economies.

Managing the resulting socio-economic transition – without major disruptions and negative impacts – is extremely complex and politically sensitive, as demonstrated in past cases of mine closure and technological change. The effective management of mining transitions requires long-term planning and the coordinated involvement of a broad range of actors.

This brief explores how a sudden decline in coal demand could affect Colombia’s coal mining regions. It reflects on possible alternatives to coal mining in these regions, and discusses whether Colombia is considering the coal decline scenario in its domestic planning processes. The authors also highlight the role that public and private actors could take in ensuring that a socio economic transition away from coal mining is smooth, rather than abrupt and disruptive.