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Emissions Reductions in Developed Countries Due Mainly to Increased Imports from Developing Countries (April 25, 2011)

posted May 1, 2011, 6:46 PM by James Hodina
Researchers examining trade and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions found that much of the reductions in CO2 emissions by developed countries was due to increased consumption of imported goods from developing countries.  The researchers set out to examine how much the shift in production of goods from developed countries to developing countries played in the stabilization of CO2 emissions by developed countries and the doubling of emissions in developing countries between 1990 and 2008.  The researchers found that “[m]ost developed countries  have increased their consumption-based emissions faster than their territorial emissions.”  In addition, much of the increase in CO2 emissions from developing countries was due to increased exports.  For example, while Chinese emissions accounted for 55 percent of the growth in global CO2 emissions from 1990 to 2008, the production of Chinese exports accounted for 18 percent of the  growth in global CO2 emissions – thus exports accounted for one-third of the Chinese’s increased emissions.  Therefore, according to this study, in order to discern the reasons for decreases and increases in a country’s CO2 emissions, one also needs to track imports and exports.  If a country’s CO2 emissions from production are decreasing, it does not necessarily mean that CO2 emissions associated with the populace’s consumption of goods are falling.  The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  [For further information:]