Robbie Watt

Robbie Watt


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Personal profile


My broad interests in research and teaching are in the politics of climate change policy, international political economy, international development and environmental change.


In 2022/23 I am convening the undergraduate module Environmental Politics, and I am teaching MA courses on The Politics of Global Climate Change, Critical Environmental Politics, and The Politics of Money and Finance. I am the Programme Director for the MA in International Political Economy.  I am available to supervise undergraduate and postgraduate dissertations. 


I completed my PhD at the Global Development Institute at the University of Manchester in 2016 and assumed the position of Lecturer in International Politics in 2017.  My doctoral research examined the cultural political economy of carbon markets - an international policy response to climate change - with fieldwork in Europe and India. 

Prior to joining the University of Manchester, I worked as a Research Assistant at the Institute of Development Studies on issues of low carbon and climate resilient development. My previous degrees are an MSc in Climate Change and Development from the University of Sussex, and an Honours degree in Politics and Philosophy from the University of Glasgow. 

I have also worked part-time in the Climate Policy team at the School of Transnational Governance at the European University Institute during 2020-21. 

Research interests

My research highlights the tensions and contradictions associated with carbon offsetting. Offsetting aims to achieve climate change mitigation and social responsibility, yet systematically fails to realise those goals. In my PhD, I identified and critically evaluated moral discourses associated with carbon offsetting to show how normative concern is mobilised to give a misleading appearance of policy success, helping to sustain a state of carbon market dysfunction which enables privileged actors to gain economic benefits at the expense of the climate and to the cost of people exposed to externalised effects in less economically developed countries. As such, my research advances critical perspectives on a form of neoliberal environmental governance and helps explain why it perpetuates environmental harm and leads to widening of social and political inequality. I have since published critical analysis of carbon offsetting which connects my doctoral research data with psychoanalytical ideology critique to argue that carbon offsetting is sustained by, and reinforces, an unsustainable social fantasy. 

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Global inequalities


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