Bachelor of Science (Honours)
ANZSRC / FoR Code
160403 Social and Cultural Geography
School of Earth & Environmental Sciences
Yapp, Kiri, Cultures of Coal and Climate Change in Helensburgh, New South Wales, Bachelor of Science (Honours), School of Earth & Environmental Sciences, University of Wollongong, 2011.
Burning coal is a major contributor to anthropogenic climate change. This thesis adopts a cultural economy approach to explore the cultures of coal and climate change in one of Australia‟s oldest coal mining towns: Helensburgh, New South Wales. More specifically, the project aimed to improve understandings of the relationships between coal and climate change and: (1) place-based identities; (2) sustainable household practices and; (3) engagement with environmental governance. This project employed a mixed-methods approach. Results point to the many different ways in which coal and climate change come to matter in people‟s lives. One way coal became important for Helensburgh households is through everyday impacts such as dust, trucks, and coal company sponsorships. Furthermore, coal is evident in prescribed environmental identities between „old‟ and „new‟ residents and levels of engagement with sustainable household practices. Yet, when attention turns to overall sustainable household practices and engagement with environmental governance there was little difference between Helensburgh and other populations. Even amongst the most sustainable households, dilemmas emerge when family, convenience and economic considerations take priority over climate change action. Nevertheless, the immediacy of coal seam gas exploration has produced a rally point for engagement in environmental governance. A final way coal came to matter was how Helensburgh residents responded to Climate Camp, an environmental protest held in Helensburgh in October 2009. Climate Camp reproduced social boundaries between an „us‟ that defined Helensburgh along lines of ongoing „coal futures‟ and a „them‟ that demanded „climate action‟ through burning less coal. This thesis serves as a starting point for further research into the cultures of coal.