By Steffen Bohm and Siddhartha Dabhi
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Additional resources for Upsetting the Offset: The Political Economy of Carbon Markets
In 2007 The Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which is the world’s prime scientific body that deals with climate change issues, states: Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice and rising global average sea level. 30 The increase in global temperatures is leading to melting of glaciers at the poles, rise in sea water levels in turn threatening human and animal life and biodiversity around coastal regions.
First, the goal of maintaining the earth’s capacity to regulate its climate is conceptualized in terms of numerical greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets. Governments determine – although currently more on explicitly political than on climatological grounds – how much of the world’s physical, chemical and biological ability to regulate its own climate should be enclosed, ‘propertized’, privatized and made scarce. 7 Making climate benefits and disbenefits into quantifiable ‘things’ opens them up to the possibility of exchange.
In response to these ‘cowboys’ and the completely unregulated nature of voluntary carbon offsets, a range of different standards have emerged, trying to introduce some level of regulation and quality control. One of the best known ones is the so-called ‘Gold Standard’,14 which is supported by a large number of NGOs. 15 Carbon offsetting, in the guise of the CDM or the voluntary market, is a mushrooming business. 16 Equally, the voluntary carbon offsetting market doubled in size in 2008 alone and was then worth about $700 million.