Carbon credit schemes & landownership in Scotland : an analysis of policy discourses

University essay from SLU/Dept. of Urban and Rural Development

Abstract: Carbon Credit Schemes have become an important feature of governance approaches to climate change in recent years and have been gaining prominence in the Global North. Scotland in particular has seen a rise in the development of carbon projects, with developers looking to sell carbon credits. Existing land debates around concentrated patterns of landownership in Scotland are an important aspect of carbon credit scheme development. Scotland’s Land Rights and Responsibilities Statement, developed by the Government, aims to diversify landownership and include rural communities within decisions relating to land. However, within this context, rural responses have been largely critical towards the development carbon projects, and rural Scottish communities have expressed concern about the potential for land-grabbing. This thesis examines the policy landscape surrounding the regulation of carbon credit schemes in Scotland. A poststructural lens is adopted to conduct a discourse policy analysis on relevant policies, with two main focuses. First, assessing how current policy on carbon credit schemes in Scotland relates to the goals of Land Rights and Responsibilities Statement. Second, enquiring as to the possible effects of how carbon credit policy and the goals of the statement speak to one another. The analysis shows that the discursive practices underpinning carbon credit schemes are closely linked with capitalist logics and are furthering neoliberal approaches to environmental governance. As a result, environmental governance is tending towards state-market hybrids. One effect of the marketisation of environmental approaches is a loss of accountability for negative impacts resulting from the development of carbon projects. In addition, this analysis also shows that there is a dilution of community consultation processes. Therefore, this thesis demonstrates that current policy in Scotland on carbon credit schemes is not in line with the principles of the Land Rights and Responsibilities Statement and that, as a result, the concerns of rural communities are being sidelined.

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