10 Mar 2010:
Study Tracks 'Outsourcing'
of Emissions Caused by Consumer Products
More than one-third of the carbon dioxide emissions associated with consumer goods used in developed nations is actually emitted in other nations where the products are made
, according to a new study. In the U.S., about 2.5 tons of carbon produced per person annually — or about 11 percent of U.S. per capita emissions — are emitted elsewhere, researchers at the Carnegie Institution for Science say. In Europe, it’s
Click to enlarge
Steven Davis/Carnegie Institution for Science
'Outsourcing' Carbon Emissions
about four tons of carbon per person. In fact, in smaller European nations like Switzerland, the emissions associated with products manufactured outside the borders exceed the actual emissions produced at home. Using 2004 trade data from 113 countries and regions, the authors of the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
, were able to construct a global model of the flow of “imported” and “exported” emissions, most of which are “outsourced” to developing nations. The biggest “importer” by far is China, they said. “Just like the electricity that you use in your home probably causes CO2 emissions at a coal-burning power plant somewhere else, we found that the products imported by the developed countries of western Europe, Japan, and the United States cause substantial emissions in other countries, especially China,” said lead author Steven Davis.
Yale Environment 360 is
a publication of the
Yale School of Forestry
& Environmental Studies
Yale Environment 360
articles are now available in Spanish and Portuguese on Universia
, the online educational network. Visit the site.
Business & Innovation
Policy & Politics
Pollution & Health
Science & Technology
Antarctica and the Arctic
Central & South America
A three-part series Tainted Harvest
looks at the soil pollution crisis in China, the threat it poses to the food supply, and the complexity of any cleanup. Read the series.
is now available for mobile devices at e360.yale.edu/mobile
The Warriors of Qiugang
, a Yale Environment 360
video, chronicles a Chinese village’s fight against a polluting chemical plant. It was nominated for a 2011 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short.
Watch the video.
Top Image: aerial view of Iceland
. © Google & TerraMetrics.
, winner of the Yale Environment 360 Video Contest, documents the work of African researchers monitoring wildlife in Uganda's remote Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Watch the video.