Disrupting the public-private distinction: excavating the government of carbon markets post-Copenhagen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This paper draws upon the recent carbon market turmoil to understand how the private realm is imagined in global climate governance. Instead of asking which entities (eg, public or private authorities) govern the carbon economy, we draw attention to the procedures (eg, caps on emissions, techniques of verification, or performance standards) by which carbon markets are made thinkable and governable as administrative domains. When focusing on these 'calculative practices', carbon market governance does not signify a retreat of the state. Rather, in this paper we argue that the involvement of nonstate actors in the governance of carbon markets represents a transformation of political rule that replaces formal and hierarchical techniques of government with more indirect regimes of calculation. From this vantage point carbon market governance emerges as an expression of a changing rationality of government where the private realm becomes elevated from being a passive terrain to be acted upon and instead turned into an entity that is both object and subject of government.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Political Science


  • public-private, climate change, offsets governmentality, carbon markets
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)658-674
JournalEnvironment and Planning C: Government and Policy
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Publication categoryResearch