Coal mining and policy responses: Are externalities appropriately addressed? A meta-analysis

Silvia Ferrini, Talia Virna, Matteo Di Massimo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
9 Downloads (Pure)


The paper combines a systematic literature review and a cluster analysis to investigate the progress and challenges of policy instruments designed to mitigate coal mining externalities. Coal is a widely abundant fossil fuel and it is forecasted to remain in the energy mix for many years to come. However, coal mining is responsible for multiple social and environmental externalities that need to be fully internalized in the coal supply market. Around the world, multiple policy instruments have been adopted to mitigate externalities but our review reveals that several coal mining externalities remain largely neglected, including impacts to biodiversity. The cluster analysis provides a comprehensive reading of the literature findings and reveals that policy instruments can moderate the negative externalities of coal mining but the majority of current coal mining policies lack a formal assessment and quantitative performance measures. It is noteworthy, that market-based instruments as well as innovative instruments are more effective than command and control at internalising coal mining externalities especially coal mine methane. A second cluster analysis by country highlights the heterogeneity of policy instruments adopted and the mix of success and failure. We conclude that few successful policies exist, that there is a need for more policy evaluation and that growth in coal mining poses challenges for our sustainable future.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-47
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Science and Policy
Early online date5 Oct 2021
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • Cluster analysis
  • Coal mining externalities
  • Communities' health effects
  • Literature review
  • Meta-analysis
  • Methane emissions
  • Policy instruments

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