Keeping the forest above to phase out the coal below: The discursive politics and contested meaning of the Hambach Forest

Carina Liersch* (Corresponding Author), Peter Stegmaier

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    8 Citations (Scopus)
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    The exit from socio-technical regimes enjoys increasing scientific interest. While many studies which cover energy or sustainability transitions focus on system contexts, there is still a lack of research focusing on the locations and arenas of negotiation. The Hambach Forest in Germany is one such opportunity to investigate the discontinuation of coal energy production. Reconnecting the global with the local sides of policy issues, we focus on the local policy arena in the context of the national coal phase out. The question is how the coal discontinuation is negotiated in the context of the Hambach Forest conflict and how actors engage in framing interaction over the course of the conflict, and how the competing framings changed over time. With an analysis of the controversy in the social and mass media about lignite mining in a very specific location, we were able to identify framings along which two groupings clashed in a physical and discursive struggle in 2018–2019, the ‘Climate and Landscape Protectors’ and the ‘Protectors of Public and Economic Order’. We found the framing categories of ‘responsibility’, ‘cost-lose-gain nexus', and ‘dependencies' and identified their fluctuation during the period of analysis. Energy transition and environmental protection clash with energy production incumbency, primacy of economy or ecology, and law and order. The Hambach Forest conflict has become a representative struggle about the speed of the coal exit pathway in Germany.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number102537
    Pages (from-to)1-19
    Number of pages19
    JournalEnergy research & social science
    Early online date11 Feb 2022
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022


    • Discontinuation
    • Coal
    • Governance
    • Hambach Forest
    • controversy


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