SUMMARY: The paper questions whether resistance to the expansion of coal can drive a just transition in South Africa. Transformative resistance requires creating "counter-power", which challenges coal on every level, builds new alliances that generate solidarity, and is potentially infused by imaginative visions of a "just transition". This could embed the anti-coal struggle in a social movement for an alternative development path. The paper examines oppositional agency in three social spaces: mining-affected communities, the environmental justice movement, and the labour movement.
KEY FINDINGS: Priorities differ for each social space: job losses for labour, dispossession of land and livelihoods for rural communities, and extractivism for the environmental justice movement. Anti-coal initiatives have the potential to build a "counter-power" which challenges inequality, and is potentially infused by visions of another world beyond coal. This could cohere into a vision of a just transition that is transformative.