In 2015, Australian professor of politics Quentin Beresford published his book on Gunns Ltd- the biggest logging firm in Tasmania. The company was engulfed in snowballing controversy after announcing plans for a pulp mill that threatened native forests. It was a familiar script. Supporting the project, state politicians had dismissed concerns from local scientific bodies. Only spirited local opposition – which took to the streets and went to the courts – eventually saved those forests.
His next book, published in 2018, focuses on a very different environmental struggle. Where The Rise And Fall Of Gunns Ltd described a forest imperilled – and saved – by local actors, Adani And The War Over Coal is about local ecosystems threatened by a transnational corporation. Unlike Gunns, its impacts are not solely local – nor are the financial flows and political systems supporting the company.
Last week, wondering how the added complexity of a transnational corporation alters the task facing local environmental activists, CarbonCopy wrote to Beresford. In the email interview that followed, he discussed the current status of Adani’s Carmichael coal mine, Australia’s pro-coal stance, the importance of local opposition to keep environmentally sensitive projects at bay and why countries should be penalised for exporting fossil fuels.