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Steffen Dalsgaard

The adoption of the Kyoto Protocol was a major breakthrough in committing industrialized countries to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases, even if the effect is disputed. The protocol works through mechanisms that ascribe value to the environment in terms of those emissions—a numerical value based on carbon, which is then translated into a monetary value. This article reviews the different understandings of value implicated in debates about the environment seen through carbon. It does this by contrasting the values embedded in some of the various initiatives that have resulted from the Kyoto Protocol, and how they relate to the market, government control, and individual consumer morality, among other things. Controversy over carbon trading is entangled in the capacity of carbon to commensurate a wide range of human and non-human actions via their cost in emissions, which nevertheless is countered by moral differentiation.

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The French Carbon Tax

Autopsy of an Ambition

Éloi Laurent

The French carbon tax was to become in 2010 the centerpiece of the country's new climate change mitigation strategy. After a heated public debate, the Constitutional Council, France's higher constitutional law body, censored the executive's proposal, which in turn, in the aftermath of a severe electoral defeat, announced the indefinite postponement of the carbon tax. This article tries to make sense of this important sequence in French contemporary public life by reviewing its different facets: environmental economics, political economy, constitutional law, and finally politics.

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Is Labor Green?

A Cross-National Panel Analysis of Unionization and Carbon Dioxide Emissions

Camila Huerta Alvarez, Julius Alexander McGee, and Richard York

In this article, we assess whether unionization of national workforces influences growth in national carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions per capita. Political-economic theories in environmental sociology propose that labor unions have the potential to affect environmental conditions. Yet, few studies have quantitatively assessed the influence of unionization on environmental outcomes using cross-national data. We estimate multilevel regression models using data on OECD member nations from 1970 to 2014. Results from our analysis indicate that unionization, measured as the percentage of workers who are union members, is negatively associated with CO2 emissions per capita, even when controlling for labor conditions. This finding suggests that unionization may promote environmental protection at the national level.

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Governing the Sun

The Challenges of Geoengineering

Klaus Radunsky and Tim Cadman

, global net anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions decline by about 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching net zero around 2050 ( IPCC 2018 ). It has been known for some time that climate-related risks to migration, human security, health

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Theorizing Mobility Transitions

An Interdisciplinary Conversation

Cristina Temenos, Anna Nikolaeva, Tim Schwanen, Tim Cresswell, Frans Sengers, Matt Watson, and Mimi Sheller

Introduction ( Cristina Temenos and Anna Nikolaeva ) How people will move, en masse and individually, is a key question facing a transition to a post- or low-carbon future. While measures seeking to reduce mobility-related emissions are embedded

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Unintended Consequences

Climate Change Policy in a Globalizing World

Yda Schreuder

The cap-and-trade system introduced by the European Union (EU) in order to comply with carbon emissions reduction targets under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Kyoto Protocol (1997) has in some instances led to the opposite outcome of the one intended. In fact, the ambitious energy and climate change policy adopted by the EU-known as the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS)-has led to carbon leakage and in some instances to relocation or a shi in production of energy-intensive manufacturing to parts of the world where carbon reduction commitments are not in effect. EU business organizations state that corporate strategies are now directed toward expanding production overseas and reducing manufacturing capacity in the Union due to its carbon constraints. As the EU has been “going-it-alone“ with mixed success in terms of complying with the Kyoto Protocol's binding emissions reduction targets, the net outcome of the ETS market-based climate change policy is more rather than less global CO2 emissions.

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Pamela McElwee

“before a commodity or service such as carbon storage can be exchanged, it must be calculated and made transparent: it must be known, counted, expressed in standardized units, and, ultimately, made commensurable with monetary value” ( Turnhout, Neves

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The Stuff of Soil

Belowground Agency in the Making of Future Climates

Céline Granjou and Juan Francisco Salazar

Despite soil’s vital ecological importance, its significance as a belowground tridimensional living world remains under-theorized in social and cultural research. Drawing on the reading of scientific literature and a series of interviews with scientists working at the juncture of soil and climate research, this article pursues a picture that highlights soil’s capacities to shape future climates, including by fostering major planetary tipping points; we elaborate on the cultural and ethical significance of that picture for opening up alternative stories in which agency and change are not human-only prerogatives. We develop a critical stance on the growing expectations of storing more carbon into soils and argue for a better consideration of the situated, heterogeneous, and volatile dynamics of carbon within soils. We eventually call for more responsible ways of thinking about, and caring for, the myriad conglomerates of living, decaying, and dead matter that basically make up the stuff of soil.

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Catherine Butler, Karen Anne Parkhill, Fiona Shirani, Karen Henwood, and Nick Pidgeon

It is widely recognized that a major challenge in low carbon transitioning is the reduction of energy consumption. This implies a significant level of transformation in our ways of living, meaning the challenge is one that runs deep into the fabric of our personal lives. In this article we combine biographical research approaches with concepts from Bourdieu's practice theory to develop understanding of processes of change that embed particular patterns of energy consumption. Through an analysis of “case biographies” we show the value of biographical methods for understanding the dynamics of energy demand.

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Robert Eastwood

This article is a non-technical review of the economics of global policy on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Quite a lot is known about the likely physical consequences of anthropogenic climate change, but much uncertainty remains. In particular, account needs to be taken of possible catastrophes such as ice sheet melting. How are we to balance the known costs of taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the present against the uncertain benefits of such action for future generations? How convincing is the case for substantial measures to be undertaken now? If the case for such action is accepted, should emissions be controlled via Kyoto-style national emissions targets or by the imposition of carbon taxes? How can the challenges of burden sharing between developed and developing countries be addressed?