||The recent rounds of world climate negotiations reveal severe flaws in the character of global capitalism, the role of the state in its transformation and state-capitalist relations.
The hope for the planet’s survival has been vested in a combination of multilateral emissions rearrangements and national regulation, which since 1997 have hinged on the premise that market-centric strategies such as emissions trading schemes and offsets can allocate costs and benefits appropriately. In constructing market arrangments and, later, an accompanying Green Climate Fund to support emissions mitigation and climate change adaptation, there has necessarily arisen a high degree of uneven geographical development.
The sources and impacts of greenhouse gas emissions are diverse, with ‘common but differentiated responsibilities’ acknowledged since 2002, and compensation for ‘loss and damage’ recognized as a vital component since 2012. But these global strategies are unfolding not within the parameters of state control of market dynamics.
Instead, they remain subordinated to the ongoing neoliberal accumulation strategy of financialization. This process is fraught with contradictions, resulting in amplified crises, and increasing resort to both temporal and spatial fixes, as well as accumulation by dispossession – the three modes of crisis displacement (not resolution) identified by David Harvey (1982, 2003). In this context, recent United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change summits since Durban in 2011 confirm that with the demise of the Kyoto Protocol’s binding commitments on the wealthy countries to making emissions cuts, a renewed effort is underway to promote market-incentivized reductions. In spite of widely acknowledged emissions market failure, especially in Europe, several ‘emerging markets’ – including within the Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa network – have begun the process of setting up markets or expanding their offset strategies now that, after 2012, they no longer qualify for Clean Development Mechanism credits.
The social, geopolitical and ecological implications are sobering, especially for a Climate Justice movement that seeks to radically reduce GreenHouse Gas emissions in a way that permits Southern industrialization, to decommission carbon markets and to enforce payment of the North’s ‘climate debt.’ Aligned against that agenda, re-articulated state-capitalist relations are both formidable with respect to crisis-management, and futile on their own terms given the contradictions implicit within spatial and ecological fixes to climate-crisis capitalism.