Outsourced Emissions Cancel Developed Countries’ Carbon Cuts

New research shows that Kyoto emission reductions by developing countries evaporate when outsourced manufacturing is factored in, with China hosting three quarters of the world’s outsourced emissions. From The Guardian:

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 ….

The study shows a very different picture for countries that export more carbon-intensive goods than they import. China, whose growth has been driven by export-based industries, is usually described as the world’s largest emitter of CO2, but its footprint drops by almost a fifth when its imports and exports are taken into account, putting it firmly behind the US. China alone accounts for a massive 75% of the developed world’s offshored emissions, according to the paper.

Bob Ward, policy and communications director at LSE’s Grantham Institute, said: “It’s important to recognise that the countries which have ratified the Kyoto Protocol are roughly on track to hit their targets by the standards it sets out. But, as these figures show, there is a flaw in the accounting, because the rich countries are not held accountable for effectively exporting emissions to the developing world.”

China’s dominance of global rare earth supplies is partly a result of similar pollution outsourcing: the PRC’s natural reserves are not uniquely extensive, but the environmental cost of processing the metals has contributed to the industry’s decline elsewhere.