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Forests through the paper mill: Assembling REDD+ through the production of documents

Bård Lahn

Documents play a central role in rendering climate change governable, by bridging the perceived gap between the global climate system and the local politics, practices, and material realities that affects it. This thesis explores the role of documents in bringing about a specific technology that allows global climate concerns to have effect on local forests: The approach to reducing deforestation in developing countries known as REDD+. Specifically, the thesis asks how the production of documents within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) shapes REDD+ as a technology for governing deforestation. REDD+ became a central element in the UNFCCC negotiations on a new international agreement on climate change in the period from 2007 to 2010. It was initially seen as a well-known technology that could address the issue of deforestation, understood as a problem of missing economic incentives to preserve the carbon stored in forests. The thesis shows how the documents that were produced in the negotiation process served to shape the outcome, resulting in significant modifications – as well as important continuities – to the original REDD+ proposal. The result was an assemblage that included, but also extended beyond, the final decision from the UN climate conference in Cancún, 2010. The thesis takes a material-semiotic approach to studying documents and the work they do in the climate diplomacy of the UNFCCC negotiations. Its main contribution is a detailed empirical account of the negotiation of one central document in international climate politics – known as Decision 1/CP.16 – based on an extensive archive of drafts and personal experience from the negotiation process. Furthermore, the thesis aims to illustrate how a material-semiotic attention to documents may supplement and nuance the understanding of climate diplomacy in international relations, and existing analyses of REDD+ and climate politics in critical social-scientific literature.

More details

  • Year: 2016
  • Language: English