PhD Researcher in Legal Accountability in Carbon Offsetting

PhD Researcher in Legal Accountability in Carbon Offsetting

Geplaatst Deadline Locatie
9 feb 31 mrt Tilburg

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Job opportunity for a PhD Researcher working on legal governance structures and accountability frameworks in carbon offsetting projects, particularly in carbon capture and storage, ‘Blue Carbon’ storage in marine environments, and through (re)forestation and agriculture practices. The position is to be supervised by Dr. Daniel Augenstein and Dr. Phillip Paiement in the Department of Public Law and Governance (PLG). PLG is a large, diverse and interdisciplinary department, home to nearly 100 academic staff and a range of legal and social science disciplines. You will develop and grow in teaching as well as research, both individually and as part of a team of ambitious scholars.


Job description
Tilburg Law School is interested in hiring a PhD researcher to study legal governance structures and accountability mechanisms in the voluntary carbon offsetting sector. Voluntary carbon offsetting – the process of indirectly reducing an organization’s emissions by paying for the reduction or removal of carbon elsewhere – is one of the world’s fastest growing sectors in the ‘Green Economy’. It is currently valued at over $2 billion. As a technology of climate governance, voluntary carbon offsetting allows large commercial enterprises (especially in ‘hard to abate’ sectors) to make claims about their progress towards ‘carbon neutrality’. The successfulness of offsetting projects hinge on robust accountability (auditing and verification) mechanisms which ensure that the carbon reductions or removals in fact occur. 

This researcher is intended to focus on the accountability mechanisms in various types of carbon capture techniques, such as capture and storage techniques, ‘Blue Carbon’ storage in marine environments in marine environments, and carbon storage through (re)forestation and agriculture practices. These techniques often raise concerns about the consequences they pose for communities in economically marginalized and underdeveloped regions, including serious conflicts about land use and ownership. Carbon offsetting governance addresses core issues of the just transition, asking whose resources will be used to offset whose emissions, and who profits from the business of offsetting projects. The young industry has already developed a poor reputation with one of the leading firms, Verra, reported by Die Zeit to have falsified as many as 90% of its offset credits. The accountability mechanisms for this industry raise familiar ‘business & human rights’ questions and concerns about the role of auditing and certification schemes in value chain due diligence and the traceability of transnational business activities but position them in the context of climate governance. 

This research project esteems to account for the transnational law and governance frameworks that structure the voluntary carbon offsetting section. It aims to address the following questions:

  • How are the relationships in voluntary carbon offsetting projects legally structured through contract, property, and other areas of law? And how does this compare to offsetting activities within institutionalized emissions trading systems? 
  • What transnational regulatory structures exist to govern the accountability, accuracy and third-party consequences of voluntary carbon offsetting? How do these regulatory structures relate to, or intersect with, mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence frameworks, including third party certification and auditing mechanisms, used to create accountability structures in global value chains?

We ask you to take these questions as guidance for the development of your short research proposal when applying for the position. 

Methodologically, we seek a candidate who is interested and capable of carrying out socio-legal research to tackle these questions. In particular, the project requires a combination of desk-based legal analysis and qualitative empirical analysis (e.g. multi-sited ethnography, exploratory or comparative case studies).

Candidates for this vacancy should be interested in conducting a PhD dissertation project within the general ambit of the above description. They should have a graduate law degree, or alternatively, a graduate degree with a specialization in qualitative socio-legal studies. Regardless, they should be willing and prepared to conduct both desk-based legal research and qualitative empirical research on the topic.

The chosen candidate will be contributing to the research community at Tilburg Law School devoted to Global Law and Governance, and more specifically to two research themes: a. Globalization: In- and Exclusion, and b. Law and Governance in the Anthropocene.  

This position consists predominantly of research (0,8 fte), with limited opportunities for education (0,2 fte) in the the Global Law LLB, Rechtsgeleerdheid LLB, International Law and Global Governance LLM and/or the European Law and Global Risk LLM.


Tilburg University


Key responsibilities

  • Writing a PhD thesis (monograph and/or a collection of articles) within 4 years
  • Submitting research results for publication in peer-reviewed academic journals
  • Presenting papers at conferences, in the Netherlands and/or internationally
  • Actively participating in the Global Law and Governance research community
  • Some teaching may be required (0,2 fte), preferably in International and/or EU (Environmental) Law

What do we ask?

Tilburg University is curious about how you can contribute to our research, education, impact, and to the team you will be part of. Therefore, we would like to get the best possible picture of your knowledge, insight, skills, and personality. Below you can find the qualifications we consider important for the position:

  • LLM degree in Law, or a comparable degree (students that are obtaining their degree before September 1st, 2024, are also welcome to apply); 
  • High proficiency in English, and preferably also a second language; allowing for effective communication and documentation’ 
  • You have a demonstrable interest in legal research, preferably with experience working on the editorial team of a law journal, or experience in a research master program, or experience as a research assistant; 
  • You have scientific integrity and will contribute to an open and diversified culture of excellence;
  • You are interested in teaching courses in Law;
  • You are interested in working with a broader research team oriented on questions about law, governance, globalization, business and human rights, climate change, and the Anthropocene;
  • You are willing and able to relocate to the Netherlands to take up this employment position.  

To maintain a vibrant and active university community, it is important that we meet each other regularly and that the connection between us remains good. Therefore, the premise is that all staff members carry out their work in the Netherlands and that lecturing is done physically.


What do we offer?
Tilburg University offers excellent terms of employment with attention to flexibility and room for (personal) development. We recognize and reward our employees and encourage the use of talents and strengths.

Tilburg University is committed to an open and inclusive culture, embracing diversity, and encouraging the mutual integration of groups of staff and students. We create equal opportunities for all our staff and students so that everyone feels at home in our university community. 

We work in a vibrant and lively (work) environment on our beautiful campus, close to the forest and easily accessible by public transport. We are committed to a sustainable society and challenge you to make an active contribution to this. 

For this position, we offer:

  • A position based on 1.0 FTE (40 hours per week);
  • It is a vacancy for 4 years. You will initially be appointed for a fixed period of 16 months with a statutory probationary period of two months. After 12 months, an evaluation will take place. If the performance evaluation is positive, your employment agreement will be extended for the remaining period of 32 months.
  • A start salary of €2.770 gross per month for full time employment, based on UFO profile PhD Candidate and salary scale P of the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities. Tilburg University uses a neutral remuneration system for salary scaling;
  • Vacation allowance (8%) and a year-end bonus (8.3%);
  • Vacation days (41 days for a 40-hour work week);
  • Full reimbursement of commuting expenses for sustainable travel: walking, biking and public transportation;
  • Moving allowance;
  • Options Model for benefits and reimbursement of expenses;
  • Employees from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a tax-free allowance of 30/20/10% of their taxable wages. We will apply for this reimbursement for you;
  • You will be enrolled in the General Pension Fund for Public Employers (ABP) through us;
  • Various training courses, for example in leadership skills, personal effectiveness, and career development;
  • A wide range of amenities and facilities and various arrangements to create an optimal work-life balance.
  • Visit working at Tilburg University for more information on our terms of employment. 


  • PhD
  • 22134


Tilburg University

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