Tricks of Perception and Perspective: The Disappearance of Law and Politics in Carbon Markets; Reading Alexandre Kossoy and Phillippe Ambrosi, 'State and Trends of the Carbon Market 2010'
Macquarie Journal of International and Comparative Environmental Law, Vol 7(2), 2011
18 Pages Posted: 11 Aug 2015
Date Written: January 5, 2011
The World Bank’s report, State and Trends of the Carbon Market 2010 (‘the Report’) descriptively engaged with recent trends in global carbon markets and prescriptively made recommendations for future development. It is a key part of the ‘intellectual’ infrastructure for growing market governance of climate change and the ‘carbon capitalist’ accumulation they facilitate. This critical reading of the Report draws attention to the perspective held by market proponents that carbon markets do not exist as ends in themselves, but as means for achieving specific goals. It highlights the Report’s disavowal of the need to evaluate markets in relation to their greenhouse gas reductions achievements, prioritising instead an ‘internal’ evaluation. It examines the relationship between carbon markets and law, highlighting the way the Report presents markets as autonomous and self-perpetuating, although highly dependant upon law for their creation, maintenance and regulation. I argue that not only does the Report disavow the constitutive role of law, but that the neoliberal relationship between carbon markets and law is such that law no longer acts as an external limitation on the market, but as a regulator. The way law produces and regulates carbon markets forecloses more democratic, environmentally effective transitions grounded in climate justice.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation