The Carbon Calculation examines how climate science, the policy world, and neoliberalism have mutually informed each other to define the problem of climate change as one of “market failure”—precluding alternatives to market-based solutions.
Focusing on REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation), the book demonstrates how industrialized countries are able to maintain their socioeconomic models largely unaltered while claiming to address global warming using forests in the Global South to offset their pollution. By examining the creation and implementation of REDD+ historically and ethnographically, the book traces the social life of this mechanism as it travels across a complex network spanning several interacting levels: international, national, and local. Through cases in the Brazilian state of Acre and the Zambézia province in Mozambique, the author demonstrates how global climate policy has created new opportunities and rationales for unprecedented levels of intervention in the Global South—all under the guise of saving the planet.
The Carbon Calculation critically highlights the ways in which politics has reinforced a scientific focus on one possible solution to the problem of climate change—namely those that largely absolve the industrialized world from undertaking politically painful transformations in its own economic model.