The commensurability of carbon: Making value and money of climate change

Steffen Dalsgaard


The introduction of the Kyoto Protocol is an attempt to save the climate through a number of schemes, or mechanisms, that commodify carbon. Among other things, these schemes create monetary incentives to reduce carbon emissions through the trade of permits and credits, and they make carbon an object of financial speculation. Most controversial is apparently the potential of carbon thus to be a universal yardstick for value by commensurating moral spheres of human action (the environment, the economy, development, etc.) that some people regard as distinct. This paper explores the consequences of the speculative aspects of carbon as a standard of value and as potential currency.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14318/hau3.1.006