Outsourcing Your Emissions

by Brian McGraw on October 18, 2010

in Blog, Politics

The Guardian reported this weekend on the confusing statistics being employed in Europe’s effort to reduce GHG emissions, “Europe on track for Kyoto targets while emissions from imported goods rise“.

The European Environment Agency reported that Europe is on track to meet agreed-upon emissions reductions of 20% by 2020, having already reduced their emissions by 17% from 1990 levels. A European Think-Tank, Policy Exchange, took a different perspective, noting that during this time emissions from imported goods and services have increased by 40%.

The stringent emissions reductions policy in Europe has caused domestic emissions to be replaced by emissions from foreign imports. If your goal is a global emissions reductions, then by this measure their policy has failed — while raising the price of energy and encouraging manufacturers to relocate abroad.

The European Department for Energy and Climate Change prefers only to look at domestic production, arguing that embedded emissions from imported Chinese produced goods are not the UK’s responsibility, and that “The UK calculates and reports its emissions according to the internationally agreed criteria set out by the UN.” Given China’s clear assertions that Chinese national interests will come first, it seems unlikely that they will be willing to take responsibility for the entirety of emissions from export production.

Walter Russell Mead comments on this topic.

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