Why do countries differ in their policy choices on coal energy?


Coal-fuelled power generation is the single largest source of CO₂ emissions worldwide. In order to fulfil the 2016 Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting the increase in global average temperature to below 2℃, over 80% of the world’s coal reserves must remain unused. Therefore, many countries are considering adopting policies to reduce the use of coal  and its mining. This project aims to reveal why some countries have opted for phase-out policies, whereas some others have not even included the issue on their political agenda.

These differences cannot be explained only by country-level factors, such as the economic development level, coal reserves, trade patterns or the number of interest groups advocating for environmental protection. This project thus pays attention to the interests, goals and activities of different policy actors.

The project asks the following questions:

– What are the key energy stakeholders’ interests related to coal and what coalitions emerge among them

– Why are some actors more influential than others in translating their interests into policy outcomes?

– What lessons can countries draw from coal policy trajectories in other countries?

Conceptually, the project will first bring the relevant theories from different disciplines together. Subsequently, the research team will analyze the links among energy stakeholders’ resource endowments, their policy-related activities and the evolution of discourses around coal energy.

These analyses include a special emphasis on the role and the abilities of local resource -production industries, their positioning in global resource trade and their employees.

Project Keywords

  • Fossil fuels
  • Coal
  • Climate change
  • Socio-technical transitions
  • Energy policy 
  • Stakeholders
  • Labor market


  • International Political Economy
  • Political Science
  • Sociology
  • Transition Studies


International Organizations

  • International Labor Organization (ILO)
  • International Renewable Energy Agency

Non-Governmental Organizations


  • InfluenceMap

Relevant Countries

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Germany
  • Japan


This is an ongoing project, which started in autumn 2019. The information here is updated regularly. If you have any inquiries please don’t hesitate to contact the project team via the form below.

Project Description Video


Contact the project team

8 + 8 =

Research team

Aya Kachi
University of Basel

Adrian Rinscheid
University of St. Gallen

Mert Duygan
Principal Member
University of Basel

Fintan Oeri
Principal Member
University of Basel

Tabea Baumgartner
Principal Member
University of Basel

Thiago Dumont Oliveira
Principal Member
University of Basel

Roman Stutzer
Principal Member
University of Basel

Heinrich Wild
Principal Member
University of St. Gallen

Daniel Rosenbloom
Principal Member
University of Toronto

James Meadowcroft
Associated Member
Carleton University, Canada

Quynh Nguyen
Associated Member
Australian National University

Karoline Rogge
Associated Member
University of Sussex, UK

Volker Schneider
Associated Member
University of Konstanz, Germany

Sonia Seneviratne
Associated Member
ETH Zurich

Florian Weiler
Associated Member
University of Basel