Home About Browse Search

Andresen, Amelie, 2023. German coal exit : an argumentative discourse analysis of storylines and discourse coalitions. Second cycle, A2E. Uppsala: SLU, Dept. of Urban and Rural Development



Germany passed a Coal Phase-out Act in 2020 to reduce carbon emissions and to achieve the objec-tives of the Paris Agreement, at a time when Germany was already phasing out nuclear energy. Thus, Germany faces a dual challenge: not only to break its dependence on coal as a resource, but also the overlap of the phase-outs of nuclear and coal energy. In order to develop a sustainable solution, the government formed a commission of relevant actors with the task to find a ‘broad societal consen-sus’. The commission negotiated for a year and the results were published in a report and passed to the legislative process, which resulted in the Coal Phase-out Act. Including the year of the commis-sion’s work, the development of the Act took more than two years, and during this time there were heated debates about how the coal phase-out should be planned and implemented. In addition, the process to the Act was criticised since the agreement achieved by the commission was changed by the legislative process in spite of politicians’ promises to institutionalise the agreement as presented in January 2019.

This thesis uses Hajer's discourse analysis approach to examine storylines and discourse coali-tions in the period from the presentation of the coal commission's agreement to August 2020, some months after the Act was passed. Among a range of emerging storylines, the two storylines ‘fair/just’ and ‘betrayal’ were analysed in particular as they were strongly promoted by actors in the debate. The findings show that the two storylines ‘fair/just’ and ‘betrayal’ were the core of two discourse coalitions which were fighting for dominance in the discursive field of the German Coal Exit. The coalition ‘fair/just’ was successful in its aim to stay dominant and in pushing the draft bill through the legislative process to become an Act. The coalition ‘betrayal’ tried to stop the process and to prevent the draft bill to pass as it was argued to contain too many changes to the original agreement, made during the legislative process. The analysis further revealed an unconventional, possibly stra-tegic, use of the term ‘consensus’ instead of ‘compromise’ to frame the GCE process as positive. The results show why discourse coalitions were formed by actors in the discursive field of the Ger-man Coal Exit and how the coalition ‘fair/just’ remained dominant.

Main title:German coal exit
Subtitle:an argumentative discourse analysis of storylines and discourse coalitions
Authors:Andresen, Amelie
Supervisor:Fischer, Anke and Strandell, Jacob
Examiner:Löf, Annette and Holmgren, Sara
Volume/Sequential designation:UNSPECIFIED
Year of Publication:2023
Level and depth descriptor:Second cycle, A2E
Student's programme affiliation:NM026 Environmental communication and management - Master's programme
Supervising department:(NL, NJ) > Dept. of Urban and Rural Development
(LTJ, LTV) > Dept. of Urban and Rural Development
Keywords:German coal exit, coal phase-out act, energy transition, discourse analysis, storylines, discourse coalition
Permanent URL:
Subject. Use of subject categories until 2023-04-30.:Pollution
Deposited On:22 Feb 2023 09:05
Metadata Last Modified:22 Feb 2023 11:56

Repository Staff Only: item control page


Downloads per year (since September 2012)

View more statistics