Panel 2 – ENVIRONMENT: Carbon Grabs

As global environmental politics, political economies and policies turn increasingly on the imperatives of climate change mitigation, so land and resources in many parts of the world are coming to be re-valued in terms of their potential contributions to reducing carbon emissions. The papers in this panel offer cases and reflections on several of the key routes through which this is happening: land-based schemes for emissions reductions, such as REDD in forest areas; land-based carbon sequestration measures, such as biochar; land-based contributions to low-carbon energy economies, such as through growing biofuels, and new climate-related justifications for conservation and ecosystem service schemes.

Drawing on a range of case studies from Africa and Asia, the papers explore how emerging carbon politics and markets globally are justifying new forms of local resource enclosure and re-valuation, implicating shifts in property rights and power. They also explore emerging politics of response to such new carbon deals: whether in the form of localised resistance or accommodation to rearrangements of land and property rights on the ground, or broader activist and discursive responses to the spectre of carbon-colonialism, carbon- capitalism and the global injustices they perpetuate. By considering this range of actual and potential exemplars of carbon-grabbing together, we hope to generate cross-cutting discussion around a number of themes and questions, such as:

  1. what kinds of conceptual framework or typology would help us capture the variety of carbon-oriented land and resource deals emerging around the world?
  2. what new actors and arguments are emerging? How do these relate to the past – older patterns of land appropriation in a new guise – and to future politics of technological and market promise?
  3. what trends – and uncertainties – in carbon markets and policy frameworks are likely to shape carbon-grabbing?
  4. what are the effects on the ground – who is gaining and who is losing?

Chair: Melissa Leach, IDS Sussex

Janette Bulkan