PhD Research Project “Unburnable” Coal and Environmental Justice in China

Aug 02, 2018
Sep 10, 2018
Organization Type
University and College
Full Time
The Institute of Environmental Science and Technology at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) is offering a Ph.D. scholarship to candidates who would like to pursue their Ph.D. studies at the Institute within the Strategic Research Programme ICTA-UAB, Units of Excellence ‘María de Maeztu’ Programme (MDM-2015-0552). The position is related to the call “Ayudas para contratos predoctorales para la formación de doctores 2018” of the Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities (MICINN). Deadline for pre-applications is 10th September 2018, please write to for further information or to apply for the position.

Within the current call, successful candidate will be hosted at UAB Campus (Barcelona, Spain) and will develop their Ph.D. training in the project “Unburnable Coal and Environmental Justice in China (supervised by Prof. Joan Martínez Alier, Prof. Antoni Rosell, Dr. Juan Liu, Dr. Armin Scheidel). The doctoral student will research anti-coal activism (coal mining, transport and power plants) in China and China’s area of economic influence. An inventory of cases on ecological distribution conflicts will be established following the Comparative Political Ecology methodology of the EJAtlas ( and the EnvJustice project (ERC Adv. Grant, 2016-21,

To what extent does local activism on coal (mining accidents, pollution and health impacts) influence climate change policy in China? Is such activism connected to global networks for reducing the speed of extraction and burning of “unburnable” fossil fuels? The project will calculate CO2 emissions avoided, taking “leakage" into account (will coal not extracted "here" be extracted elsewhere? is there less “leakage” at geographically smaller units of decision?).

Contract terms are detailed in the Call for “contratos predoctorales 2018”. Here are the main features for the previous call (note that quantities may slightly change):

  • This is a 4 year fellowship with an annual evaluation. The gross salary will be approximately 16.422€ (excluding social security). In the case the Ph.D. is completed and defended in 3 years, the fellowship will be renewed to a postdoctoral fellowship and the gross salary will be of 19.000€ (excluding social security).
  • The programme also includes a travel package per fellow to undertake research visits to other research centers during the duration of the fellowship.

Applicants should meet the requirements for PhD call “contratos predoctorales 2018” by the MICINN. As the call has not been published yet (expected month: September-October 2018), as basis you may read the call from the previous year.


At the time of submission the candidate:

  1. Should have not received funding from the Spanish Programme for Research with the aim to pursue his/her Ph.D. studies. Should be holder of a degree which would formally entitle him/her to embark on a doctorate for the academic course 2017-2018 (MSc Degree). It is preferable to have a master’s degree from political ecology, ecological economics, environmental studies or development studies.
  2. Should have not been granted any other Ph.D. scholarship with a duration of 12 months or more, and should not have a Ph.D.
  3. Should be in the position to be legally accepted in the UAB Ph.D. Programme “Ph.D. in Environmental Science and Technology”:
  4. Knowledge of English and Chinese is required, additional languages would be an asset.
  5. Knowledge of environmental issues inside China or a willingness to explore such issue in this country and other countries within its influence



The selected student would register in the Ph.D. program of Environmental Sciences and Technology Institute at UAB and be ready to start the fellowship next Autumn 2018 (November-December). She/he will be responsible for collecting data for the project and preparing it for analysis. Selected candidate will join the EnvJustice Project, and fully participate in the activities organized in the framework of María de Maeztu Research Programme. Candidate will present intermediate research results at ICTA-UAB seminars/workshops and at international conferences.

This is an internal pre-selection of the best candidates. Then, the pre-selected students should be ready to apply in September-October 2018 through the MICINN on-line platform as soon as the call opens. The final evaluation will be done by the MICINN.

The deadline for the application is 10th September 2018.


About ICTA-UAB María de Maeztu Unit of Excellence:

ICTA-UAB is implementing a Strategic Research Programme intended to consolidate its scientific capabilities, contribute to the leadership of Spanish research and act as an international pole of attraction for talent. The plan addresses major global environmental and sustainability challenges related to anthropogenic climate change, focusing on establishing the current state of knowledge on climate change and its socio-economic impacts, and on putting forward transformative solutions at the local and regional levels.


About EnvJustice Project:

The EnvJustice project is mainly about the expansion and updating of the EJAtlas database. Ten team members contribute to and do research on the EJAtlas database, explore the vocabulary of environmental justice, and investigate the potential alliance between the degrowth and environmental justice movements. See Sustainability Science (13(3), 2018), “The Global Environmental Justice Atlas (EJAtlas): ecological distribution conflicts as forces for sustainability”.

EnvJustice is financed by the European Research Council (ECR). The ECR awarded Professor Joan Martinez-Alier a grant that runs from 1 June 2016 until 31 May 2021.