ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Capitalisation of Nature

Political Economy of Forest/Biodiversity Offsets

Trading in environmental commodities like various forms of "offsets" has started with its questionable premise that any loss or damage to environment at a particular space-time can be offset by a supposedly pro-environmental action in another space-time through the mediation of capital and market. In India, a rather disguised offset process known as compensatory afforestation has taken off under state and judicial patronage quite some time ago. Besides, India also has the strong credential of having hosted a more common form of offset trading in the Clean Development Mechanism. Referring briefly to both but discussing mainly the philosophy and practices of various forms of offset markets in vogue, this article tries to show that this concept is in sync with the evolution of capital and capitalism in history.

This paper has benefited a lot from Larry Lohmann’s thoughtful comments. The author is indebted to him and also to Jutta Kill: conversations with both of them have informed many of the paper’s conclusions.

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