The concealments of carbon markets and the publicity of love in a time of climate change

Michael Northcott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Kyoto Protocol and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change have failed to engage the nations in a cooperative approach to reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that are destabilizing the earth’s climate. Central to this failure is the resort to neo-liberal market techniques—and in particular markets in carbon emissions—for the management of emissions reduction. The resort to Carbon Emissions Trading (CET) reveals the problematic philosophical premises of economic neoliberalism, which include a preference for anonymous algorithms as managers of human affairs over face-to-face political communities and shared engagement of citizens and corporations in practices that promote the common good of a stable climate. It is proposed in this article that a core task of the church’s public responsibility in relation to climate change is to offer a theological critique of neoliberal approaches to climate change mitigation and against these to advance a spiritual theology of cooperative action for the common good of a stable climate in which love for near and distant neighbours, and creatures, is the key metaphor.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)294-313
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Public Theology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • common good
  • climate change
  • love
  • power
  • emissions
  • carbon market

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