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Accepted Paper:

‘Clean Oil’: Carbon Control and Extractive Environmentalism in Ghana  
Pauline Destree (Durham University)

Paper short abstract:

Decarbonization has emerged as a new mode of ‘sustainable’ operation for the oil and gas industry. This paper explores how environmental technologies of ‘carbon control’ in the oil and gas industry reproduce extractive landscapes whilst projecting new imaginaries of protection and exposure.

Paper long abstract:

Amidst rising concerns and changing shareholder values around environmental sustainability, the climate crisis has emerged as a strategic risk to the operations and viability of international oil and gas companies. Responsible for over a third of global greenhouse gas emissions, the oil and gas industry has turned to ‘sustainability’ as a new mode of operation – adopting targets to net-zero through various techniques of environmental control and mitigation. In this paper, I describe how energy professionals (chemists, environmental engineers, and environmental officers) in the oil and gas industry in Ghana attempt to control carbon through environmental technologies of waste management and oil spill prevention. Based on fieldwork at a waste management site for the oil and gas industry in Takoradi, Ghana, I argue that environmental technologies and practices that seek to make oil production ‘clean’ create imaginaries of partial protection in a context of global petro-corporate power. Contributing to recent debates about the need to ethnographically situate normative calls for decarbonization and energy transitions, the paper explores the rise of ‘extractive environmentalism’ as a form of climate politics that reproduces extractive landscapes through the revaluation of low-carbon as an exploitable asset.

Panel P022b
Uncommon Explorations between Green Technologies, Climate Hopes, and the Anthropological Imagination II
  Session 1 Wednesday 27 July, 2022, -