Performative Equations and Neoliberal Commodification
The Case of Climate

by Larry Lohmann

first published 15 September 2012

Because the neoliberal era has witnessed an unprecedented expansion in theoretical ambitions for commodification – commodification of species, biodiversity, security, public services, water, ideas, genomic information, climate benefit and so forth – paying attention to the particularities and resistances associated with each attempted commodification process has never been more important. Using the example of climate service markets, this chapter proposes and demonstrates one method for breaking down into bite-sized chunks the radical efforts at commensuration characteristic of neoliberal commodification, so that an account of the relevant actors, methodologies, institutions, contradictions and outcomes can be more easily organized. Applying this tool – performative equations – helps explain why the failures of climate service markets go far beyond those of more traditional markets.