Imported Goods are Hidden to Alter Real Carbon Emission Stats

Carbon emissions that are related to imported goods in many developing countries are on the increase according to two new studies. However, researchers have suggested that the amount of carbon emissions resulting from imported goods is not included on the official statistics and that this is misleading and obscuring the facts when it comes to carbon emissions.

The National Academy of Sciences has already reported that 26% of global emissions come from trading goods and these are not included in the statistics when it comes to calculating carbon emissions. Glenn Peters who works with the research group Cicero admitted that, "There is a degree of delusion about emissions cuts in developed nations. They are not really cuts at all if countries are simply buying in products they used to manufacture. We really need all countries to be developing and publishing the full extent of their emissions, whether they are produced domestically or outsourced through traded goods.”

However, Dr Peters admitted that producing the data in the research was the easy task, but how governments and scientists now acted was crucial."Publishing this sort of data is the first step. The next step - what to do about it - is more difficult. It raises questions about consumption patterns, and whether countries should consider border taxes on imports from countries with no controls on CO2 emissions… though this is controversial and will be some way down the line," he said.

The study concluded that the UK was increasing its carbon emissions rather than reducing its deficit as the government has claimed. This is due to the fact that the UK and many other developing countries only calculate carbon emissions that come from domestic sources and not imported ones.

However, a government correspondence admitted that there were problems and outlined in a report that was found under the Freedom of Information Act that "While technological efficiency has improved the CO2 impacts of our products since 1992, the rise in UK consumption has outstripped the improvements achieved. The government needs to be cautious about over-claiming on its achievements in decoupling economic growth from environmental degradation."

Yet, the British Government is reluctant to address the problem, despite being aware of the problem as they are the basis for international climate negotiations throughout the world. Guy Shrubsole, from the Public Interest Research Centre, said: "This is a cop-out. The figures aren't perfect but the problem has been recognized for several years and the calculations are getting better all the time. In the UK our emissions are up - not down.”

"Of course China needs to be part of a global climate agreement. But for a government which wants to be the greenest ever and is committed to data transparency it's essential that the British government publishes the best data available right away - and then figures out what to do about it," he added.

Photo credit: Roke