In the wake of the Paris Agreement on climate change, promises to phase out coal-fired power have suggested cause for optimism around energy transition globally. However, coal remains entangled with contentious development agendas in many parts of the world, while fossil fuel industries continue to flourish. This article discusses these entanglements through a climate justice lens that engages the cultural politics surrounding coal and energy transition. We highlight how recent struggles around phasing out coal have stimulated renewed critical debates around colonialism, empire, and capitalism more broadly, recognizing climate change as an intersectional issue encompassing racial, gender, and economic justice. With social movements locked in struggles to resist the development or expansion of coal mines, power plants, and associated infrastructure, we unpack tensions that emerge as transnational alliances connect disparate communities across the world. Our conclusion signals the need for greater critical engagement with how intersecting inequalities are coded into the cultural politics of coal, and how this shapes efforts to pursue a just transition.