What Is Carbon Dioxide? When Is Carbon Dioxide?

Gökçe Günel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


In this article, I focus on carbon capture and storage (CCS), a controversial climate change mitigation technology that operates by collecting carbon dioxide from point sources and depositing it in underground locations, such as depleting oil reservoirs. Specifically, I investigate the ways in which certain CCS professionals imagine and demand a reconceptualization of carbon dioxide: not as waste or as dangerous material that should be taxed and exchanged in carbon markets, but as a neutral gas that can be bought and sold as a commodity, and perhaps used as a drilling additive for the oil and gas industry. CCS professionals suggest that carbon dioxide has multiple legal, political, and chemical meanings and existences across different points on a CCS network, and they acknowledge how this condition makes it difficult to produce the molecule as a commodity characterized by exchange and commensurability. In studying the commodification of carbon dioxide, I show how these professionals do not intend to create "sameness" across the market, but instead wish to commodify the molecule through "linking" various versions of carbon dioxide together. By tracking carbon dioxide as it moves within a CCS network, I explore the moral logics of CCS technologies, which obscure how energy-intensive models of life triggered climate change in the first place.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)33-45
Number of pages13
JournalPolitical and Legal Anthropology Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law


Dive into the research topics of 'What Is Carbon Dioxide? When Is Carbon Dioxide?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this