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Who can afford (not) to mitigate? Agency, inequality, and additionality in agricultural carbon finance

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Peadar Brehony.

This seminar presentation explores the uneven geographies and political ecologies of agricultural carbon finance, understood as incipient efforts to source certified emissions reductions from mitigation activities at the landscape scale or agriculture-forest interface. In short, efforts to assemble emissions reductions in this context result in a notable convergence between longstanding concerns in the political ecology of agriculture with more recent debates about the environmental (in)justices of both climate change and its mitigation. At least since Piers Blaikie’s Political Economy of Soil Erosion in Developing Countries, for instance, political ecologists have often sought to challenge prevailing explanations for alleged soil erosion or ‘land degradation’, and particularly those which appear to rely on neo-Malthusian narratives of over-population and intransigent local persistence with ostensibly sub-optimal land management practices. Simply put, project designs for agricultural carbon finance once again bring these debates squarely to the fore, given that they must explicitly articulate an explanation for land degradation – and thus potential for enhanced carbon sequestration or other emissions reductions – in order to establish the ‘additionality’ of a proposed intervention within a given project area. With reference to preliminary results from ongoing fieldwork in East Africa, the seminar presentation seeks to nuance our understanding of additionality in such contexts by foregrounding the oft-unacknowledged or disavowed significance of growing agrarian inequalities within such project designs, as well as the politics of knowledge and expertise which underpins their formulation, development, and dissemination within the nascent mitigation-industrial complex.

This talk is part of the Political Ecology Group meetings series.

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