Abstract

Theorizing the carbon economy: introduction to the special issue The term `carbon economy ' often has an adjective placed nearby: the `new ' carbon economy, the `low ' carbon economy, the carbon `neutral ' economy, the `zero ' carbon economy, or can be simply thought of as the shorthand for the political economy of carbon. Such a discursive move marks a shift in focus from 20th-century carbon-based industry and society to aspirational movements in the new millennium. Brown and Corbera have focused on the novel directions in the `new ' carbon economy in describing it as one that ``represents the emerging trade in carbon emissions, along with the series of market-based policy instruments designed to reduce global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through the creation of markets for carbon such as the flexibility mechanisms of the Kyoto Protocol' ' (2003, page 41). Through a variety of economic, political, ecological, and cultural twists and turns, new actors are stepping in to take advantage of these mechanisms and broker deals in `voluntary ' carbon reductions. Castree (2006) has cautioned that there are many dimensions to this emerging (new/low/zero) `carbon economy ' rather than a shift denoting an overarching organizing force

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