News & Events

CSTPR seminar: Forests, finance and conservation: A turn in U.S. climate policy

Wednesday, September 13, 2017, 12:00PM - 1:00PM


Lauren Gifford



CSTPR Conference Room


California’s cap and trade program is one of the most established carbon markets in the world, and relies on a network of offsets to help participants balance their carbon budgets. One of these mechanisms involves investment in forest conservation as a means of offsetting industrial emissions. This talk explores the implications of climate policy-driven investment in forest conservation, with a focus on several projects in Maine that are tied to California’s carbon market.

This talk takes a critical approach, drawing on political ecology and science and technology studies (STS) to ask how, and by whom, climate and conservation policies enacted. It explores how a mechanism originally designed to address industrial GHG emissions on the west coast has become a major tool for conservation funding on the other side of the country. Data collection draws on a suite of qualitative methods, including more than 100 interviews collected over five years of fieldwork, from Maine, to the Peruvian Amazon, to the United Nations annual climate negotiations, as well as participant observation in carbon accounting training courses through the Greenhouse Gas Management Institute. This research reveals the role of the financial industry in designing and brokering forest carbon projects, and illuminates the linked worlds of forestry and finance as key to making forests legible within climate action plans. Finally, the research shows that what was designed as a tool to help polluters administratively address their carbon budgets has become a vital funding source for conservation and economic development in a region struggling amid a collapsed paper industry and depressed local economies.


Watch a free webcast if you can't make the talk in person. (Log in as a guest.)


Free and open to the public.