Commodity Fetishism in Climate Science and Policy
In Which Various Men with Beards are Enlisted to Help Explain Why Official Efforts to Address Climate Change Have Reached an Impasse

by Larry Lohmann

first published 25 February 2010


The concept of commodity fetishism helps explain where today's climate policies have gone wrong. In classic fetishistic fashion, "cost-saving" institutional practices have helped entrench many dangerous equivalences across society: equivalences among molecules, places, technologies and times; equivalences between offsets and emissions reductions, between biotic and fossil carbon, between hypothetical and real reductions, between fines and fees, between uncertainty and probability and so on. An illustrated powerpoint presentation (available upon request to The Corner House) diagnoses 12 examples of climate fetishism currently shaping the thoughts and behaviour of research institutions, UN climate negotiators, national governments, large corporations, physical scientists, traders and others.