Current Institutional Affiliation
Associate Professor, Sociology, National Taiwan University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2012
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Sociology, University of Wisconsin / Madison
Construction and Governance of the Global Carbon Commodity Chain

The carbon market, in which people trade carbon in order to reduce it, has emerged as the dominant policy solution to deal with climate change. How was such a market established and stabilized? I adopt the Global Commodity Chain framework to “follow” carbon commodities through the chain in different parts of the world. I apply a combination of ethnographic fieldwork and archival analysis in understanding 1) the institutional building of the carbon market, 2) the governance structure of the carbon market, and 3) the commodification processes of carbon. My multi-sited research method includes fieldwork in London, China, and Washington D.C. In London, the carbon finance hub of the world, I plan to acquire an internship position in a carbon finance company to obtain hands-on experience in carbon market operations and observe the market infrastructure from below. In China, I will sample different sources of carbon offset products to investigate the politics associated with the commodification processes. In the final phase, Washington D.C. will be the strategic place to analyze how governments are mobilized to construct carbon markets at the global level. Since the carbon commodity chain is a global phenomenon, each part of my project is indispensible to capture the full picture of the chain. My research contributes in advancing the sociological theory and practice on climate change by bringing the Global Commodity Chain and environmental sociology together. It also enhances our understanding on the structure of transnational governance. Finally, the results from this study are particularly relevant to the current policy debate on future of climate change mitigation strategy.