The Coal Rush and Beyond

Coal reliance, climate change, and contested futures in Australia, India and Germany
Globally, coal extraction and burning has been booming in the last decade. This inter-disciplinary project investigates the ‘coal rush’ in sociopolitical terms, asking how coal reliance emerges, and whether it might be superseded. We seek explanations of why new coal mines and coal-fired power stations are constructed, investigate social conflicts centred on new coal facilities, and analyse what social factors may enable transition from coal. Local sites, three national contexts, and transnational connections will be compared to develop a nuanced understanding of coal. The research team is undertaking a three-year study of coal in Australia, Germany and India.

Beyond the Coal Rush

The Coal Rush and Beyond hits the radio waves in a three-part series on the Science Show on ABC Radio National starting on Saturday 27 August 2016 at 12.05pm.

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We seek to understand the intersecting global and national dynamics of coal. Importantly, these are not strictly economic or technical issues. They also raise socio-political questions. We are investigating the contestation of coal in terms of the connections between local coal-affected communities, formal decision-making, and a transnational coal industry driven by global export and energy markets.


India’s coal boom is well underway. It is the world’s third largest coal consumer, and host to the fifth largest national reserve of coal. There are major social and ecological consequences of India’s coal rush, and multiple dimensions to the future of coal in India. We explore the interconnections between India’s development aspirations, politics, and culture in the national debate over coal.


There are tensions underlying Germany’s energy transition. It has a ‘coal conundrum’. In order to understand the dynamics of Germany’s brown coal rush, we combine analysis of political economy of Europe’s energy industries, with analysis of national politics and policies, and long term ethnographic observation of the communities affected by coal expansion.