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Carbon sink geopolitics

Ehrenstein, V; (2018) Carbon sink geopolitics. Economy and Society , 47 (1) pp. 162-186. 10.1080/03085147.2018.1445569. Green open access

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Abstract

This paper explores 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 act as 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 discusses 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 activities 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.

Type: Article
Title: Carbon sink geopolitics
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1080/03085147.2018.1445569
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03085147.2018.1445569
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: geopolitics, global exigency, negotiations, climate change, tropical deforestation, carbon markets
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10114368
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