Thirteen-and-a-half percent of China’s 45 percent rise in greenhouse gas emissions between 2002 and 2005 can be attributed to export production for Western countries, reports a new study published in Geophysical Research Letters. In other words, outsourcing of manufacturing by American and European firms accounted for larger share of carbon dioxide emission growth than rising domestic consumption in China (which made of 7 percent of the figure). The results, which indicate that Western companies are effectively outsourcing emissions along with manufacturing, have implications for future climate treaties, says one of the authors.
“This makes us reflect on how we are a part of a global system, and how we partly drive emissions in other countries. It is important to take at least some responsibility for problems that we cause indirectly in other countries,” said author Glen Peters of the Center for Climate and Environmental Research in Oslo.
The Kyoto Protocol doesn’t account for carbon leakage, where emissions are essentially displaced from one country to another. Peters says future climate agreements will need to address this in order to be effective.
“We do not need to completely redesign Kyoto, but we could include incremental changes that address carbon leakage and competitiveness concerns,” he said. “Climate policy could be designed in similar ways to existing tax policy. For example we could design carbon taxes in a similar way to value-added taxation which covers imported products. In that way the consumer would pay for the emissions caused by his or her consumption.”
Industrialized countries outsource CO2 emissions to China June 2, 2007
Facing criticism as it surpasses the U.S. as the world’s largest producer of carbon dioxide, China says that industrialized countries are hypocritical for criticizing its greenhouse gas emissions while buying its products, according to the Associated Press. China argues that developed countries are effectively outsourcing emissions by shifting manufacturing to its factories