Carbon sink geopolitics: Using Science and Technology Studies to explore the futures of collective climate action, Véra Ehrenstein

V. Ehrenstein (Goldsmiths- University of London, London, United Kingdom), at the Our Common Future Under Climate Change conference, July 7-10 in Paris, France. More at

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  • 1. Carbon sinks geopolitics Véra Ehrenstein Research Fellow, Sociology, Goldsmiths - University of London Our common future under climate change, 7-10 July 2015, Paris Parallel Session 2241 “New representations and new frames for the climate change debate”
  • 2. What we can learn from REDD+ and the sociology of translation • REDD+: – First topic that concerns developing countries – Framed as a matter of economic incentives, and a question of development inequalities, public participation, legal rights and non-carbon benefits – A negotiated item that moves forward • An ethnography of international action in the case of REDD+: Which sites, processes, actors, skills, and instruments? • Moving outside the UN negotiation arena, paying attention to the mediations
  • 3. Blurred political representations • Who is acting? The Congo, the ministry, a few expatriates, UN agencies, the preparation of DRC…? • Professionalized civil society and infiltrations • An enclosed REDD+ community despite iterative decision- making
  • 4. Markets? Performance-based aid • Constructive ambiguity around what “market-based” means • The co-existence of various redistribution vehicles
  • 5. Metrological standards and their consequences • How measurement conventions can hamper the capacity to (re)act • Adjusted baselines to take into account future national development • Different carbons (e.g. intact forests)
  • 6. Laws and the assignment of efforts • Legal pluralism: international law, private carbon contracts, national concessions, customary rights… • Assigning efforts and revenues
  • 7. Concluding remarks • To consider climate negotiations within a larger web of collective actions – REDD+, international development aid and environmental activism – What about other climate-related topics (e.g. energy)? • Carbon sinks geopolitics: collective political action with and around tropical forests becoming carbon sinks • Geopolitics? – Politics to take care of a new geographical entity – Inter-state relationships – An inter-national space (in the interstices)
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