Lansing, David M. (2013). Not all baselines are created equal: A Q methodology analysis of stakeholder perspectives of additionality in a carbon forestry offset project in Costa Rica. Global Environmental Change, 23(3), 654-663. (

Abstract: This paper uses a Q methodology for analyzing actor subjectivity in order to examine the extent to which differently situated actors agree or disagree about baseline constructions of land-use change, and the potential role of offsets in an indigenous community. In so doing, this study aims to accomplish three goals. First, it examines the level of convergence or divergence between actors concerning the land-use claims embedded within offset procedures. Second, it examines discursive alignments within actors by gauging how one’s view of land-use change correlates with one’s understanding of the goal of the offset project itself. Finally, the paper assesses the extent to which a level of discursive agreement is needed for project cooperation. The results show points of radical divergence between indigenous and non-indigenous experts involved in implementing the offset project, as well as points of pragmatic optimism regarding offsets and markets in affecting land-use change. Results indicate that discursive disagreement concerning basic understandings of land-use change and project goals did not preclude collaboration. The strong divergences between actors over the causes of land-use change, and the nature and intent of the offset project, suggest that truly collaborative offset implementation is illusory.

Highlights: ► Radically different conceptions of offset goals between some actors. ► Some pragmatic middle ground shared by diverse actors. ► Scientifically reductive views of land use correlated with reductive understandings of offset goals. ► Actors who viewed complex cultural factors as driving land use had negative views of offsets. ► Disagreement about land use and offsets did not preclude policy cooperation.

David M Lansing <dlansing> is in the Department of Geography and Environmental Systems, University of Maryland—Baltimore County, Baltimore, MD (USA).

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