Governing by expertise: the contested politics of (accounting for) land-based mitigation in a new climate agreement

Authors: Kate Dooley and Aarti Gupta


Abstract: This article analyzes the contested politics of including (and accounting for) land-based mitigation in a post-2020 climate agreement. Emissions from land have been only partially included to date within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol. The Paris Agreement, adopted in December 2015 and “applicable to all” for the post-2020 period, raises the possibility of unprecedented reliance on land-based mitigation. This has significant consequences for furthering both ambition and equity in global climate mitigation efforts. Yet, what are these consequences, and how have they manifested themselves in the existing (pre-2020) multilateral climate regime? What role do accounting rules for land-based mitigation play herein? In addressing these questions, we identify key dimensions of what we term the “governance by expertise” approach taken to land-based mitigation to date, which has served to reduce the environmental integrity of existing (developed country) mitigation efforts. Specifically, we analyze land-use accounting rules as a site of politics and highlight the “technicalization of politics” underway in this realm, which obscures the political implications of how land has been included to date. We conclude by considering whether the Paris Agreement institutionalizes similar dynamics, and the environmental integrity and equity implications of doing so.

Citation: Dooley, K. & Gupta, A. Int Environ Agreements (2016). doi:10.1007/s10784-016-9331-z