Carbon cuts by developed countries cancelled out by imported goods


Developed countries are shown in blue

Developed countries are shown in blue (According to the IMF, as of 2008). - Image via Wikipedia

Kyoto protocol means carbon footprints are calculated for the countries producing goods, not those consuming them

Cuts in carbon emissions by developed countries since 1990 have been cancelled out many times over by increases in imported goods from developing countries such as China, according to the most comprehensive global figures ever compiled.

Previous studies have shown the significance of “outsourced” emissions for specific countries, but the latest research, published on Monday, provides the first global view of how international trade altered national carbon footprints during the period of the Kyoto protocol.

Under the protocol, emissions released during production of goods are assigned to the country where production takes place, rather than where goods are consumed.

Campaigners say this allows rich countries unfairly to claim they are reducing or stabilising their emissions when they may be simply sending them offshore – relying increasingly on goods imported from emerging economies that do not have binding emissions targets under Kyoto.

More (Click here) (Guardian.co.uk)

Here’s the abstract from the study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences:

Growth in emission transfers via international trade from 1990 to 2008

Despite the emergence of regional climate policies, growth in global CO2 emissions has remained strong. From 1990 to 2008 CO2 emissions in developed countries (defined as countries with emission-reduction commitments in the Kyoto Protocol, Annex B) have stabilized, but emissions in developing countries (non-Annex B) have doubled. Some studies suggest that the stabilization of emissions in developed countries was partially because of growing imports from developing countries.

To quantify the growth in emission transfers via international trade, we developed a trade-linked global database for CO2 emissions covering 113 countries and 57 economic sectors from 1990 to 2008. We find that the emissions from the production of traded goods and services have increased from 4.3 Gt CO2 in 1990 (20% of global emissions) to 7.8 Gt CO2 in 2008 (26%). Most developed countries have increased their consumption-based emissions faster than their territorial emissions, and non–energy-intensive manufacturing had a key role in the emission transfers.

The net emission transfers via international trade from developing to developed countries increased from 0.4 Gt CO2 in 1990 to 1.6 Gt CO2 in 2008, which exceeds the Kyoto Protocol emission reductions. Our results indicate that international trade is a significant factor in explaining the change in emissions in many countries, from both a production and consumption perspective. We suggest that countries monitor emission transfers via international trade, in addition to territorial emissions, to ensure progress toward stabilization of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Freely available online through the PNAS open access option. Full Text (PDF)

doi: 10.1073/pnas.1006388108 PNAS April 25, 2011, Glen P. Peters, Jan C. Minx, Christopher L. Weber and Ottmar Edenhofer

This article contains supporting information online at www.pnas.org/lookup/suppl/doi:10.1073/pnas.1006388108/-/DCSupplemental.


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