The Stop Adani campaign was a directed network campaign aiming to halt the construction of a large thermal coal mine in northern Queensland. This coal mine, called the Carmichael project, is located in the undeveloped Galilee Basin in Central Queensland and, if constructed as originally planned, was to be the largest in Australia. At its height, the Stop Adani campaign supported over 125 local sub-groups, organising thousands of events over many years.
- Campaign primary issue: Fossil fuel (coal) mining
- Campaign sub-issue: Climate Change
- Overall campaign goal: Stop the Adani Carmichael Coal Mine
- Primary group: Stop Adani Alliance, Stop Adani
- Associated groups: see below Partners, Allies, Supporters
- Country: Australia
- Location: North Galilee Basin, Queensland
- Time period: 2015-2022
The Adani Carmichael coal mine was proposed by the Adani Group in 2010, a wholly owned subsidiary of India’s Adani Group, which works primarily in port development and operations in India and has been linked to financial scandals and environmental offences in India (Long 2017).
The project has received support from both the Queensland State and the Australian Commonwealth Governments, resulting in initial approval being granted by the State Government in 2014, official approval in 2016, and all final outstanding plans and policies approved in 2019. Since its proposal in 2010, the project has generated substantial public discontent despite this political support, resulting in the emergence of one of the largest environmental campaigns in Australian history.
Originally targeting Adani and its political backers, this campaign has simultaneously undertaken activism against the mining company, banks, insurance companies, contractors, and governments supporting the mine. This case study investigates the changing tactics used and the outcomes achieved by the campaign to date and considers how these have flowed into other civil resistance climate mobilizations across the country.
- To stop the development of the Adani Carmichael coal mine.
- Stop the money: ‘The world’s biggest investors are funding Adani’s coal. Investors like BlackRock, State Bank of India, JP Morgan, HSBC and MUFG. Together, we will stop the money and push them to divest from Adani.”
- Stand with Wangan and Jagalingou: ‘Right now, Adani is ripping the heart out of Wangan and Jagalingou country, the Aboriginal land where Adani is trying to dig its coal mine. Will you stand with them?’
- Expose Adani’s greenwash: ‘The Adani Group wants to rebrand itself as a leader on climate change and clean energy. But there’s a big problem – Adani are mining, handling, and burning record volumes of coal – the number one driver of the climate crisis.’
Note: Quotes are taken from text on www.stopadani.com homepage.
A total of 145 different targets have been identified in a detailed analysis of the Stop Adani campaign (Gulliver et al., 2021). The following lists a number of these targets, using the target names as described by the Stop Adani groups that organised the events (not an exhaustive list):
- APA group
- Armour energy
- Big 4 Banks
- Big Oil
- Brazilian Government
- Buru Energy
- Chinese government
- Climate deniers
- CSG / WA Government
- Federal MPs
- Forest Products Commission
- Forestry Corporation
- Governments & Banks
- Indian Government
- Japanese Government
- Korean Government
- Local Government
- Macquarie Bank
- Minerals & Energy Council
- Monash University
- New Acland Mine
- Newcastle Coal Port
- Nine Entertainment
- NSW government
- NSW Planning Assessment Commission
- NT Government
- Prime Minister
- Qld Government
- RMIT University
- Russian Government
- SA Government
- State & Federal Governments
- State & Federal MPs
- State Government
- State MP/s
- State Premier
- Tas Government
- University of Melbourne
- University of Wollongong
- Venture Minerals
- Vic Government
- WA Government
- Whitehaven Coal
Tactics / Methods / Tools used
In this case study, we investigate the full range of events promoted by the groups, as well as the civil resistance tactics they used to target corporations. Tactics are grouped into five categories: information sharing, eco-activities, meetings/ administration, social/fundraising, and civil resistance tactics. The table below shows the number of events found in each category for each group involved in the campaign.
|Australian Youth Climate Coalition||311||8||156||12||10||497|
|Frontline Action on Coal||33||50||2||1||86|
|Australian Conservation Foundation||31||26||1||58|
|Climate Action Coffs Harbour/Coffs Coast Climate Action Group||19||27||1||6||53|
|Australian Religious Response to Climate Change||25||16||2||1||44|
|The Bob Brown Foundation||14||20||34|
|Fight for the Reef||17||11||1||29|
|Conservation Council of ACT||19||5||1||25|
|Darebin Climate Action Now||18||5||1||1||25|
|Central Queensland Climate Action Network||12||5||2||1||20|
|School Strike for Climate||13||2||1||1||17|
Stop Adani groups organised 1,687 (52%) of the 3,401 events. The most common type of event was information sharing, followed by a civil resistance tactic. Of note was the prevalence of film screenings of the two documentaries created for the campaign, with 527 of the 1,511 information sharing events using this tactic. The spread of events across multiple groups indicates that the Stop Adani campaign is gaining support in a wide swathe of climate and environmental groups. Indeed, images from civil resistance tactics such as the large School Strike for Climate rally on September 20, 2019, demonstrates the way in which the campaign is being linked with the climate movement more broadly.
The most common type of civil resistance tactics used in the campaign were rallies (520 events). This was followed by 82 events by Stop Adani groups around the country promoting a “human sign” to spell out the words “Stop Adani.” Some more disruptive tactics were also used. The most common of these was a rally involving a component of disruption (six unique events). Examples of these include a protest outside a corporate or government office wherein a small group of activists also enter the building and refuse to leave. An equally common disruptive action was an event specifically listed as an occupation, particularly an occupation of businesses engaged in work for the Adani coal mine. Across the Stop Adani dataset we found only one example of creative acts of commission—in this case, a cycle action.
Finally, boycotts were used over a short period of time during a Stop Adani “Week of Action.” Local groups were encouraged to boycott a particular company – Tradelink – that was offering supplies to the Adani coal mine. Groups affiliated with Galilee Blockade, Extinction Rebellion, Frontline Action on Coal, and Stop Adani all participated in the boycott.
Connections between tactics and targets over time
The detailed analysis of the campaign explored in Gulliver et al (2021) allowed tracking of campaign targets against the tactics used in the campaign between 2019 and 2020. The figure below shows peaks of tactics used against different categories of targets. Once these targets agreed to the campaign demands new targets were identified.
The Stop Adani campaign is a directed network campaign. As such, it is composed of many different groups working at a grassroots level in conjunction with a central group—the Stop Adani Alliance and Tipping Point—directing the campaign, all working toward the goal of stopping the mine (Mogus and Liacas 2016). Mackay Conservation Council’ played a critical role in founding the campaign, maintaining on-the-ground actions and raising awareness of its impacts for almost ten years
Partners / Allies / Supporters
The Stop Adani campaign consisted of over 100 groups around the country composed of volunteers who worked specifically on the campaign. A range of additional environmental groups also work on the campaign as part of their own activities. Through a detailed process of data gathering, an analysis conducted by Gulliver and colleagues (2021) collated an extensive list of groups which were active on the campaign up until 2020.
- Aridlands Environment Centre
- Australian Conservation Foundation
- Australian Marine Conservation Society
- Australian Parents for Climate Action
- Australian Religious Response to Climate Change
- Australian Student Environmental Network
- Australian Youth Climate Coalition
- Bankstown Bushland Society
- Bathurst Community Climate Action Network
- Baw Baw Sustainability Network
- Bayside Climate Change Action Group
- Bendigo Sustainability Group
- Bimblebox Nature Refuge/Alliance
- Bob Brown Foundation, The
- Brimbank Climate Action Network
- Brisbane West Conservation Network
- Cairns and Far North Qld Enviro Centre
- Caldera Environment Centre
- Capricorn Conservation Council
- Climate Action Bennelong
- Climate Action Canberra
- Climate Action Coffs Harbour
- Climate Action Hobart
- Climate Action Monaro
- Climate Action Newcastle
- Climate Action Wagga
- Climate and Health Alliance
- Climate Change Australia – Hastings
- Climate Change Balmain-Rozelle
- Climate Emergency Action Network
- Community Climate Network
- Conservation Council of ACT
- Conservation Council of South Australia
- Conservation Council of WA
- Dandenong Ranges Renewable Energy Association
- Darebin Climate Action Now
- Doctors for the Environment
- Douglas Shire Sustainability Group
- Extinction Rebellion
- Farmers for Climate Action
- Fight for the Reef
- Fossil Free
- Friends of the Earth
- Frontline Action on Coal
- Galilee Blockade
- Gasfield Free
- Geelong Sustainability Group
- Green Music Australia
- Greenpeace Asia Pacific
- Hawkesbury Environmental Network
- Highett Neighbourhood Community House
- Hume Climate Action Now
- Hunter Community Environment Centre
- Illawarra Residents for Responsible Mining
- Knitting Nanas
- La Trobe Valley Sustainability Group
- Lighter Footprints
- Lithgow Environment Group
- Lock the Gate Alliance
- Lower North Shore Climate Action
- Market Forces
- Montmorency Community Group
- Moorabool Environment Group
- National Parks Association
- Nature Conservation Council NSW
- Nature Conservation Society of SA
- Nimbin Environment Centre
- North Queensland Conservation Council
- North West Environment Centre
- Parramatta Climate Action Network
- Protect the Bush Alliance
- Queensland Conservation Council
- Ryde Gladesville Climate Change Action Group
- School Strike for Climate
- Sea Shepherd
- Sea Turtle Foundation
- SEE-Change Inc
- SEED Mob
- Stonnington Climate Action Network
- Sunshine Coast Environment Council
- Surf Coast Energy Group
- Surfrider Foundation
- Sustainable Hepburn Association
- Sustainable Living Armidale
- Sutherland Shire Environment Centre
- Transition Network
- Uni Students for Climate Justice
- Wilderness Society, The
- Willoughby Environment Protection Association
- Wodonga Albury Towards Climate Health
- Australian Federal Government (2012 – 2022)
Market Forces has provided a list of companies which (by October 2022) had formally ruled out working for Adani. Called ‘The Adani list’, it provides detailed information on finance, insurance and construction and engineering companies status on their commitments to refuse Adani related work.
The outcomes of campaigning against this large collection of individual secondary targets is summarised below (data collected in 2020).
|Finance||60 (41%)||46 (77%)|
|Construction and engineering||48 (33%)||12 (25%)|
|Insurance||34 (23%)||4 (12%)|
|Coal haulage||3 (2%)||1 (33%)|
As the table above illustrates, groups secured 63 wins against secondary targets, with the most wins involving targets that were going to finance the mine. In this context, a win means that the target made a public announcement to not become involved with the Adani mine. Beyond banks, several construction and engineering firms have also ruled out working on the mine. The campaigns against insurance companies achieved a 10% success rate, and one of the three coal haulage companies was successfully targeted (33% success rate). This data suggests that directing actions at secondary targets to remove corporate pillars of support may be highly effective, at the very least, in delaying the development of large projects. In addition, our data suggests that short-term, high-intensity activism against certain secondary targets may be more likely to result in success. At the same time, it must be acknowledged that despite these wins, Adani company often has managed to ultimately find a provider of services.
Furthermore, some companies have reneged on their pledge and continue to work with Adani despite commitments made otherwise. Despite these limitations, the success in securing commitments from banks and contractors highlights the power of this campaign to make the development of the mine much more difficult for the Adani Corporation. In addition to corporate secondary targets, the Stop Adani campaign has undertaken civil resistance against federal, state, and local levels of government. For example, activists targeted NAIF, a federal government funding body, resulting in the commitment of the Queensland State Government to veto taxpayer funding for mining infrastructure. The Stop Adani campaign has listed a series of wins against government secondary targets on their website. However, while the campaign has achieved some significant wins against government secondary targets, the mine now progresses with full government approval.
The Stop Adani website provides an overview of the range of successes achieved through the campaign. They note specifically
- STOPPED INSURANCE TO GALILEE COAL PROJECTS
- BUILT A POWERFUL MOVEMENT
- EXPOSED ADANI’S DODGY TRACK RECORD
- STOPPED ADANI GETTING ANY FUNDING FOR THE MINE
- PUSHED 100+ MAJOR COMPANIES TO RULE OUT ADANI
- KEPT GALILEE COAL IN THE GROUND
- STOPPED ADANI GETTING $1 BILLION FROM AUSTRALIAN TAXPAYERS
In terms of the Stop Adani campaign, this data shows that this campaign has directed its efforts toward a wide range of secondary targets, including potential contractors for the mine construction, banks, insurance entities, and local, state, and federal governments. The longitudinal data shows that while the campaign has not yet achieved the goal of stopping the coal mine, substantial successes have accrued through persistent civil resistance tactics directed at the full range of secondary targets. In particular, the use of disruptive acts of omission by a small number of groups against specific targets—such as blockades and sit-ins in corporate offices and contractors’ workplaces—has achieved considerable success. Through securing commitments by banks and potential contractors not to work on the mine, activists have delayed construction on the Adani project by nine years.
Reflections on Outcomes
The Stop Adani campaign has demonstrated the ability of civil resistance tactics to directly affect project work by potential contractors at their own specific worksites. This has resulted in potential contractors incurring substantial costs and delays on projects and on their daily work operations. However, in the Stop Adani campaign not all secondary targets have given in to campaign demands despite substantial disruptive and creative civil resistance tactics. There may be some unique characteristic of corporate entities who refuse to agree with campaign demands (e.g., Wagners and Siemens) that makes them less susceptible to activists’ demands, whereas others capitulate fairly quickly.
However, over the nine years that the Stop Adani campaign has progressed, the mine itself has received support from all levels of government. In addition, close connections between political power holders in Australia and the Adani Corporation owner in India have ensured the survival of the mine proposal despite questions around its financial viability (Beresford 2019). Despite growing public opposition to the mine (Massola 2018), this situation seems consistent with Gilens and Page’s (2014) research demonstrating the significant power that business interests have over government policy in contrast to citizens’ lack of independent influence.
The primary tactic used by groups active in the Stop Adani campaign is information sharing. The focus on this conventional tactic is not surprising given that Australia is a democratic country where multiple organising and resistance avenues remain available to activists. It has been argued that activists expand beyond traditional democratic institutional channels (e.g., lawsuits, elections, lobbying, petitions) when people increasingly perceive the formal democratic system is at least partially dominated by economic and political power elites frustrating the popular will (Louis 2009). In the case of the Stop Adani campaign this holds true; continued government support for the mine appears to have pushed the campaign toward disruptive civil resistance tactics as a supplementary mechanism to create pressure on power elites who are blocking significant reform through traditional channels.
Furthermore, the Stop Adani campaign was directed toward a corporation undertaking work in a clearly defined physical location. This enabled the development of a blockade camp to support consistent actions against the target, providing a focal point for directing human and financial resources from across Australia.
Sections of text in this case study were sourced from the book ‘Civil Resistance against Climate Change’ (2021) with the permission of the authors.
- The Stop Adani campaign maintains a collection of images in a Flickr collection
- Read this overview of the campaign by Marta Zając
- Follow the Bob Brown Foundation’s work maintaining ‘AdaniWatch’, a project established to expose the global misdeeds of the Adani Group.
- Read Michael C. Rupić’s Masters Thesis entitled ‘#StopAdani: The Landscape of Environmental Activism in Australia’ (May 2020)
References / Sources
- Beresford, Quentin. “If the Adani Mine Gets Built, It Will Be Thanks to Politicians, on Two Continents”. The Conversation, May 30, 2019..
- Gilens, Martin, and Benjamin I. Page. “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens.” Perspectives on Politics 12, no. 3 (2014): 564–581.
- Gulliver, R, Fielding, K., & Louis, W. (2021). “Civil Resistance against Climate Change.” International Centre on Nonviolent Conflict.
- Long, Stephen. “Adani Carmichael Coal Mine: Former Indian Minister Sounds Alarm on Adani’s Track Record, Mega-Mine’s Viability.” ABC News, October 1, 2017..
- Louis, Winnifred R. “Collective Action—And Then What?” Journal of Social Issues 65, no. 4 (2009): 727–748.
- Massola, James. “Big Surge in Opposition to Adani, New Polling Reveals.” Sydney Morning Herald, February 1, 2018.
- Mogus, Jason, and Tom Liacas. “Networked Change: How Progressive Campaigns Are Won in the 21st Century”. Salt Spring Island: NetChange, 2016.
Do you have any information you would like to add to this campaign study? We would love to hear from you. Contact us with the information you would like us to add or if you have any questions.
- Stop Adani and the Suffragettes Reflections on targets and tactics
- The Advocates: Women within the Australian Environmental Movement
- Civil Resistance against Climate Change: What, when, who and how effective?
- Women’s Stories of Environmental Activism – Interviews with women taking action at Camp Binbee against the Carmicheal coal mine development in Queensland, Australia in 2017.
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- Civil resistance
- Direct action - Non violent NVDA
- Movements_Campaigns - Anti mining - Adani (Coal mine)
- Movements_Campaigns - Climate Action
- Organising - Distributed network