Post-Democratic Carbon Accounting: Creating the Climate for Disagreement

Research Summary

Since 1995, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has defined the accounting standard by which governments of all scales count their carbon footprint. While planetary carbon emissions are on the rise, this 'territorial-based' methodology has enabled some western nations to declare that their emissions have stabilised. Conversely, alternative 'consumption-based' methodologies have highlighted the growing embodied emissions in the products that the west consumes. However, consumption-based approaches have seldom been adopted. Responding to the uneven adoption of carbon footprinting methodologies - and the different perspectives of responsibility that underpin them - my research investigates the relation between carbon accounting and the politics surrounding decarbonisation.

Theoretically, I expand critical understandings of accountancy’s social role through an appreciation of the 'political difference', drawing upon the work of Jacques Rancière. To this end, my research is concerned with how accountancy can make some perspectives 'count' while leaving others unheard. This research draws upon an auto-ethnography of accounting, completing a carbon footprint inventory for the City of Manchester using the Global Protocol for Community-Scale Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventories (GPC) and an aviation emissions inventory. I have also drawn upon interviews with community groups, activists, organisations and policy-makers in a UK context.

Research Interests

  • The Political
  • Post-Democracy
  • Political Ecology
  • Carbon Accounting
  • Smart Cities

Blog Posts

Hudson, M. and Blakey, J. 2018. Zero-carbon UK? Let’s Make Zero Mean Something. Policy@Manchester. Available from:

Blakey, J. and MacGregor, S. 2018. Can a City Ever be Truly Carbon Neutral? The Conversation. Available from:

2017 Re-making Greater Manchester Sustainably. Policy@Manchester. Available from:

2017 Turning Climate Governance Upside-Down. Sustainable Consumption Institute. Available from:

2016 Could Smart Cities be Smarter About Inequality? Policy@Manchester. Available from:


2019. Nordic Geographers Meeting. TBC.

2018. Making Carbon ‘Count’: Creating the Climate for Disagreement. RGS-IBG Annual International Conference. Cardiff, The United Kingdom, Aug 28-31.

2018. Making Carbon ‘Count’: Metrics and the Politics of Sustainability. Metrics of Sustainability, 2018 Summer Institute on Critical Studies of Environmental Governance. Toronto, Canada, Jul 11-15.

2018. What ‘Counts’? The Politics and Silences of Carbon Footprints. SRUK Seminar Series on Global Challenges: Climate Change & Sustainability. Manchester, The United Kingdom, Apr 21.

2018. Carbon Accounting and Making Perspectives ‘Count’. RGS-IBG Postgraduate Forum Mid- Term Conference. London, The United Kingdom, Apr 19.

2018. Making Carbon ‘Count’: Creating the Climate for Disagreement. RGS-IBG Planning and Environment Research Group Workshop 2018: Sustainable Transitions. Exeter, England, Jan 11.

2017. Equality and the Smart City: Negotiating (Post)Democracy in Manchester, UK. The Nordic Geographers Meeting (NGM): Geographies of inequalities, Stockholm, Sweden, Jun 20

2015. TRIANGULUM Work Package 2 Multilevel Impact Assessment and Monitoring Deliverable 2.1 - January-July 2015. CITYKEYS Workshop. Rotterdam, Netherlands. Jun 12.