West Virginia Firm Shares Experience with World’s Largest Coal Company

Sep 21, 2022

Joey James, Principal at Downstream Strategies, recently returned from a trip to India where he met with executives of the world’s largest coal company, Coal India Limited. Mr. James was tapped by the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Global Just Transition Network to share his firm’s experience working on economic transition initiatives on former mine sites and coal communities with the company.

As countries are committing to the clean energy transition, there is an enhanced focus by governments, companies, and multilateral institutions on making sure workers and communities dependent on fossil fuels are not left behind. India’s coal sector directly employs about 1.2 million people; however, informal workers and local mono-economies implicate an additional 20 million people in energy transition decisions. Mr. James’ meeting with Coal India Limited was part of a larger coordinated effort to make certain a plan is in place that ensures these workers are intentionally served by new economic opportunities.

“I was able to share Downstream Strategies’ experience developing and implementing localized economic development strategies with ecological restoration, renewable energy, agriculture, tourism, and other types of development on former mine sites to create and sustain jobs in Appalachia. While the Indian coal industry is a few years away from seeing the type of declines that we’ve seen here in West Virginia, it’s never too early to start planning for what’s next. With the proper plan in place, mine sites can be ecologically restored and/or transitioned to new industries, and jobs and communities can be sustained,” James says.

Further, James explains, “There’s a lot the global coal industry can learn from what’s happening in places like West Virginia, and I’m honored to share my experience through the Global Just Transition Network.” The Global Just Transition Network builds transnational, peer-to-peer relationships between fossil fuel-dependent communities and facilitates dialogue on just economic transition with fossil fuel industry representatives. Currently, the Network is working in the United States, India, and South Africa.

Mr. James’ firm, Downstream Strategies, provides environmental and economic development consulting services to government entities, non-profit organizations, and private businesses in Appalachia and beyond. A growing line of the firm’s work focuses on strategically reusing former mine sites and other underutilized land assets to grow local economies.