Carbon sink geopolitics

Ehrenstein, Vera. 2018. Carbon sink geopolitics. Economy and Society, 47(1), pp. 162-186. ISSN 0308-5147 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This paper offers an example of global politics in action by attending to the modalities and outcomes of United Nations negotiations on global warming. More precisely, the paper ethnographically traces how the capacity of tropical forests to be carbon sinks is turned into a matter of global concern. The focus is on a negotiated policy called Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) and its anchoring in the Democratic Republic of the Congo whose territory contains the second largest area of rainforest after Brazil. The paper proposes to discuss the importance of the promissory in climate actions, the multivalence of what is at stake and the porosity and resilience of national demarcation. To do so, it identifies three moments and sites of geopolitical re-composition: the formulation of international consensus, the work of preparatory agents, and the quest for metrological inclusiveness. These moments and sites point to the theatricality and semi-secrecy of United Nations negotiations, the mobilizing activity of expatriate consultants hired with overseas aid funding, and the unstable evidential grounds on which emission reduction efforts are based. The paper suggests that through this series of processes, the carbon stored by tropical forests becomes a matter of global exigency

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geopolitics; global exigency; negotiations; climate change; tropical deforestation; carbon markets

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31 January 2018Accepted
9 April 2018Published

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Date Deposited:

07 Jun 2018 14:29

Last Modified:

10 Jun 2021 07:11

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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