Mar 9, 2010
We've written about the phenomenon of outsourced carbon emissions a number of times, with the example of perhaps up to one third of China's emissions coming from manufacturing goods destined for consumption abroad being most prominent. Well, a new study by scientists at the Carnegie Institution adds some more data to our our understanding of this issue:
The researchers studied trade flows of 57 industrial sectors, from 113 countries and regions and were able to determine the net emissions imported and exported for specific countries.
Some Small Nations Outsource More Emissions Than Produced Domestically
Doing this, they found that for most European countries, over one third of emissions linked to goods and services consumed domestically were emitted in another country. In Switzerland, often held up for it's comparatively low per capita carbon emissions, these outsourced emissions actually were higher than domestic emissions. The United States turns out to outsource a total of 11% of consumption-based emissions, mostly to developing nations.
Report lead author Steve Davis described what this means,
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.