UK must consider embodied CO2

23rd May 2012


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IEMA

The energy department is risking the UK's climate change ambitions by failing to consider the greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions generated overseas in making imported products and services, according to the energy and climate change committee

In a new report, MPs warn that by not including emissions related to the consumption of goods made outside the UK, DECC is portraying a false account of the country’s impact on GHG production globally, which could result in more emissions being offshored in the future.

DECC’s calculations, which only count GHGs physically created in the UK, estimate that emissions dropped by 19% between 1990 and 2009; however, Defra figures for the same period reveal that consumption-based emissions rose by 20%.

“Successive governments have claimed to be cutting climate-changing emissions, but in fact a lot of pollution has simply been outsourced overseas,” argued Tim Yeo, chair of the committee.

“We get through more consumer goods than ever before in the UK and this is pushing up emissions in manufacturing countries like China.”

The report concludes that emissions savings calculated by DECC have been the result of the move from coal to gas-fired power stations and the relocation of manufacturing facilities outside the UK, rather than from more sustainable production and consumption patterns.

It argues that DECC must consider consumption-based emissions alongside territorial emissions to create a true picture of the UK’s global impacts.

Acknowledging the embodied carbon of imports, it states, could give the government greater power to lever improvements in emissions overseas and help to tackle negative consumer behaviour.

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