Black coal, thin ice: the discursive legitimisation of Australian coal in the age of climate change

Stutzer, Roman and Rinscheid, Adrian and Oliveira, Thiago D. and Loureiro, Pedro Mendes and Kachi, Aya and Duygan, Mert. (2021) Black coal, thin ice: the discursive legitimisation of Australian coal in the age of climate change. Humanities and Social Sciences Communications, 8. p. 178.

[img] PDF - Published Version
Available under License CC BY (Attribution).


Official URL: https://edoc.unibas.ch/84113/

Downloads: Statistics Overview


Despite mounting urgency to mitigate climate change, new coal mines have recently been approved in various countries, including in Southeast Asia and Australia. Adani's Carmichael coal mine project in the Galilee Basin, Queensland (Australia), was approved in June 2019 after 9 years of political contestation. Counteracting global efforts to decarbonise energy systems, this mine will substantially increase Australia's per capita CO2 emissions, which are already among the highest in the world. Australia's deepening carbon lock-in can be attributed to the essential economic role played by the coal industry, which gives it structural power to dominate political dynamics. Furthermore, tenacious networks among the traditional mass media, mining companies, and their shareholders have reinforced the politicoeconomic influence of the industry, allowing the mass media to provide a venue for the industry's outside lobbying strategies as well as ample backing for its discursive legitimisation with pro-coal narratives. To investigate the enduring symbiosis between the coal industry, business interests, the Australian state, and mainstream media, we draw on natural language processing techniques and systematically study discourses about the coal mine in traditional and social media between 2017 and 2020. Our results indicate that while the mine's approval was aided by the pro-coal narratives of Queensland's main daily newspaper, the Courier-Mail, collective public sentiment on Twitter has diverged significantly from the newspaper's stance. The rationale for the mine's approval, notwithstanding increasing public contestation, lies in the enduring symbiosis between the traditional economic actors and the state; and yet, our results highlight a potential corner of the discursive battlefield favourable for hosting more diverse arguments.
Faculties and Departments:06 Faculty of Business and Economics > Departement Wirtschaftswissenschaften > Professuren Wirtschaftswissenschaften > International Political Economy and Energy Policy (Kachi)
UniBasel Contributors:Kachi, Aya and Duygan, Mert
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Publisher:Springer Nature
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
Related URLs:
Identification Number:
edoc DOI:
Last Modified:23 Jul 2021 07:13
Deposited On:23 Jul 2021 07:13

Repository Staff Only: item control page