PurposeThis paper aims to show that the implementation of carbon accounting systems is problematic because it contributes to the commodification of nature, leading individuals to “forget about nature.”Design/methodology/approachThe authors use the concept of reification to explore the subjective dimension of the commodification process. They construct an analytical framework that helps to explain how and why nature may ultimately be “forgotten” by individuals during the commodification process. The example of France is used to illustrate this argument.FindingsThe paper presents and discusses three mechanisms (the objectivation of nature, economic reasoning and individuals’ environmental consciousness) that form the basis for the rationale and modus operandi of carbon accounting systems. By comparing these mechanisms with the concept of reification, it highlights three criticisms that could be put to advocates of these systems.Practical implicationsThis analysis shows that discussions of carbon accounting systems should focus more on their philosophical principles rather than merely examining the technical problems posed by their implementation.Social implicationsThis research provides some answers to explain the inefficiency of policies implemented within the framework of global climate governance.Originality/valueThis study helps to put carbon accounting research into perspective. It goes further than existing work on the commodification of nature by describing the subjective dimension of individuals who are led to disconnect their arguments and practices from their primary and emotional relationship with nature.
Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jun 19, 2019
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