The Coal Rush and Beyond: India, Germany, Australia

Sunday, 10 July 2016: 13:15
Location: Hörsaal II (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
James GOODMAN, University of Technology Sydney, Australia
Coal is said to be a ‘legacy’ fuel. It is the main driver of climate change and is ostensibly the main target for climate policy. Climate campaigners now focus on coal as the primary form of ‘unburnable carbon’. Yet coal has undergone a renaissance, fuelling both ‘emerging’ and established capitalist economies. This paper investigates the contest between drivers for coal and forces for a post-coal future across three countries, taken as contrast cases: industrializing India; post-industrial Germany; and extractivist Australia. It focuses on contestations over coal, fought out between corporate sectors, within the state, and between NGOs and movements. It finds the meaning and legitimacy of coal increasingly destabilised, with various contests over whether coal is a viable commodity or stranded asset, a strategic resource or resource curse, a foundation for prosperity or a threat to humanity. In the context of advancing climate change, coal’s persistence creates new political forces and brings new models for post-coal society into view. As such, the paper discusses the three cases in terms of an unfolding agenda of realizing the social transformations that are required for effective climate agency.