What is carbon violence?

Why carbon offsetting isn’t always a win-win-win.

There is a long history of violence associated with international development, including ‘green’ development projects. Such violence has been understood in different ways, including as both direct, and structural violence. Carbon violence characterizes both the direct and structural violence that has arisen from carbon market schemes.

Establishing and managing these projects has become a profitable industry…

Carbon violence and the ‘green’ economy

Carbon violence refers to some of the negative consequences of the growing global ‘green’ economy, including specifically carbon market initiatives.  You can read more about the green economy on our FAQs page.


CarbonViolence - 37 scaled

Neutrality doesn’t always result in equality.

The word ‘carbon’ makes reference to ‘carbon offset’ projects, in this case tree plantations, which are designed to capture or ‘sequester’ carbon, thereby compensating for greenhouse gas emissions. Establishing and managing these projects has become a profitable industry, and in response, a number of profit-seeking companies have been formed, which participate in the broader global ‘green economy’. Often these companies implement carbon-offset projects in other, generally poorer countries.


We use the word ‘violence’ to indicate that these projects can be costly to people in a variety of different ways. In this case, we are referring to people who live (or lived) on or use land that has been acquired for these sorts of carbon-offset projects. Whilst the violence experienced by these people isn’t necessarily in the form of physical harm, we use the term more broadly to describe diverse experiences of ‘direct’ and ‘structural’ forms of violence, such as forced eviction, loss of livelihood, the restriction of access to important sites, chemical pollution, the imposition of jail terms and fines, and the use of threats and intimidation.

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