Publication Type:Journal Article
Source:ephemera, Volume 12, Issue 1/2, p.138-161 (2012)
Keywords:Actor-Network Theory, Carbon accounting, classification, corporate environmental protection, science and technology studies
How does a corporation know it emits carbon? Acquiring such knowledge starts with the classification of environmentally relevant consumption information. This paper visits the corporate location at which this underlying element for their knowledge is assembled to give rise to carbon emissions. Using an Actor-network theory (ANT) framework, the aim is to investigate the actors who bring together the elements needed to classify their carbon emission sources and unpack the heterogeneous relations drawn on. Based on an ethnographic study of corporate agents of ecological modernisation over a period of 13 months, this paper provides an exploration of three cases of enacting classification. Drawing on Actor-Network theory, we problematise the silencing of a range of possible modalities of consumption facts and point to the ontological ethics involved in such performances. In a context of global warming and corporations construing themselves as able and suitable to manage their emissions, and, additionally, given that the construction of carbon emissions has performative con-sequences, the underlying practices need to be declassified, i.e. opened for public scrutiny. Hence the paper concludes by arguing for a collective engagement with the ontological politics of carbon.
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