The NEXtra Core project aims to explore new avenues for just energy transition studies, with a focus on building partnerships for the Global South.
By María de la Garza and Andrés Ángel
To comply with the Paris Agreement and limit the global temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius or less, the complete stop of coal combustion without carbon capture and storage must be achieved by 2050. Unfortunately, the process of phasing out coal is not as easy as turning off a switch – particularly for those countries that have only recently received large-scale increases in coal extraction or exportation. A just transition involves overcoming political challenges related to local employment, the mitigation of environmental impacts, gender and cultural aspects, the potential of halting economic growth, and many other areas requiring thorough consideration. So, while it is clear that the coal industry must undergo a swift, yet sustainable transition, the question remains as to how this can be delivered.
The UNU-FLORES-led research project, ‘Sustainable Transformation in Coal Regions of the Global South: Challenges from a Resource Nexus Perspective (NEXtra Core)’ aims to analyse the environmental legacies of the carbon age and develop perspectives for the energy transition in the coal regions of Colombia, Indonesia, Mozambique, and South Africa. As the majority of existing research is derived from experiences in the Global North, NEXtra Core focuses on paving new avenues for study in the Global South.
Alongside the Institute’s partners at the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, and funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) via the German Federal Agency for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR), NEXtra Core works to identify prevalent needs that must be fulfilled to better carry out this much-needed research, such as information asymmetries between stakeholders, a lack of participation, environmental regulatory and policy gaps, and knowledge and capacity gaps, as well as stimulating relevant experience-sharing processes on coal and energy transitions between both the target countries and other countries.
Under the coordination of Andrés Ángel, the NEXtra project team of María Elena Huertas (for Colombia), Putri Sukmahartati and Handriyanti Diah Puspitarini (for Indonesia), Shannon Brincat (for Mozambique), and Zainab Birungi (for South Africa) have worked on their respective case studies since 2021, and are now producing a report for the purpose of presenting recommendations and lessons (to be) learned in this field. Recommendations that could be expected include those pertaining to research gaps, as well as financial and political strategies to support a just transition, with a focus on opportunities for international cooperation on the resource nexus. The Team intends to publish their report early next year.