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Carbon Offsetting: An Ethical and Psychological Approach


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Carbon Offsetting: An Ethical and Psychological Approach

The carbon offset market is becoming more and more popular. However, 57 until now few studies have attempted to approach the phenomenon from a social sciences’ perspective. By distinguishing three levels of analysis – the technical, psychological and ethical aspects – this work has a double objective: to better understand the mechanisms underlying the offsetting phenomenon and to evaluate its effectiveness as a greenhouse gas emissions mitigation tool. The comments made about the system concern the voluntary carbon offset market mostly, with a special focus put on its application in developing countries. Some observations however are valid for the Clean Development Mechanisms of the Kyoto Protocol as well. The three levels of analysis are considered to form a coherent whole, leading to a chain of problems related to how the marketplace is organised today. From a technical perspective, the calculation methods are based on scenarios anticipating how emissions are going to evolve, and as such are prone to strong uncertainties, contrasting dramatically with the over-simplified way that offsetting companies tend to present their services. By claiming to offer a perfect equivalence between compensated emissions and corresponding carbon reductions, such companies reinforce the competitive attractiveness of offsetting over true behavioural changes, banking on the low psychological and economic involvement it requires from individuals. At the ethical level finally, the idea that one can “neutralize” his/her greenhouse gas emissions, here and now, by helping implement reduction projects elsewhere and at another time, is in accordance neither with the responsibility that developed countries ought to undertake, nor with a certain aspiration for ecological justice. After a synthetic presentation of the various criticisms addressed to the offset system, this work proposes some adjustments and modifications to be applied, so that the system may become more just and more effective in the studied contexts. Notably, getting rid of the terms “offsetting” (to which one will prefer “contribution”) and “neutrality”; giving up the claim of perfect equivalence between emissions and reductions and limiting “offsetting” to domestic projects. Financial flows directed at projects in developing countries remain necessary, but they should not be dependant on, and proportioned to, the North’s emissions any more. It is the only way for western developed countries to assume their responsibilities fully.
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    Date de réalisation : 30 Novembre -1
    Lieu de réalisation : IGeSA - Institut de Gestion Sociale des Armées, Porquerolles, France
    Durée du programme : 18 min
    Classification Dewey : Économie, Sciences de la Terre
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    Catégorie : Conférences
    Niveau : niveau Doctorat (LMD), Recherche
    Disciplines : Sciences de la Terre , Sciences économiques
    Collections : New Methodologies and Interdisciplinary Approaches in Global Change Research
    ficheLom : Voir la fiche LOM
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    Auteur(s) : FRAGNIERE Augustin
    producteur : FMSH-ESCoM
    Réalisateur(s) : FILLON Richard, DESLIS Jirasri
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    Langue : Anglais
    Mots-clés : économie, Science de la Terre, Géoscience
    Conditions d’utilisation / Copyright : Cette vidéo est mise à disposition selon les termes de la licence Creative Commons BY-NC-ND. Les contenus produits par les participants relèvent de la propriété intellectuelle.
 

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