Outsourced Emissions Dwarf CO2 Cuts in Developed World, Study Says

Carbon emission reductions achieved since 1990 by the world’s developed nations were canceled out many times over by the increase of imported goods from nations without binding emissions targets, including China, according to a new report. While climate policies, including the Kyoto Protocol, stabilized carbon emissions in many wealthy nations from 1990 to 2008, most of these nations increased their “consumption-based” emissions significantly during this period because of large imports, according to the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study, which the authors call the first global assessment of how international trade affected national carbon footprints since Kyoto, says that while developed nations reduced their CO2 emissions by 2 percent from 1990 to 2008, those emissions actually increased by 7 percent when imports were factored in. “This suggests that the current focus on territorial emissions in a subset of countries may be ineffective at reducing global emissions without some mechanisms to monitor and report emissions from the production of imported goods and services,” said Glen Peters of the Centre for International Climate and Environmental Research and lead author of the study.