Reducing U.S. coal emissions could create jobs in forestry, transportation, study finds

As coal is phased out to make room for cleaner energy sources, a new study concludes new technology could create thousands of new jobs in transportation and forestry nationwide.

One of the biggest challenges to combating global warming is the loss of jobs for people who work in the coal industry, which is a major culprit in the carbon emissions responsible for climate change.

International treaties like the Paris Agreement have made clear fossil fuels like coal need to be phased out in order for humanity to survive the worst effects of a warming planet.

But job security and growing energy demands are also major factors, with many fearing the effects of phasing out fossil-fuel industries.

And despite the pleas from scientists and governing bodies to move away from fossil fuels to meet climate targets, many nations continue to rely heavily on coal.

A new study published Thursday in the journal Joule looked at how new carbon-capture technology could not only retain thousands of jobs in the coal industry, but create thousands more.

“Rather than arguing that climate change mitigation is simply necessary, policymakers could promote climate actions by informing stakeholders about potential employment co-benefits,” the study says.

The researchers specifically looked at bioenergy coupled with carbon capture and storage, a technology yet to be implemented that some see as promising to mitigate climate change.

The technology involves collecting carbon from power plants and other large emissions sources, and injecting it into geological formations underground to sequester it. The biomass is then used as a source of fuel, potentially resulting in negative emissions.

This carbon capturing will be necessary, proponents argue, because regular “carbon sinks” like forests and soil won’t be enough.

Using a number of different models, the team of researchers analyzed data about how the technology development affects employment.

In addition to implementing the carbon-capture technology by 2030, half of the aging coal plants in the United States must be replaced with natural gas plants by 2050.

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