European Carbon Emissions Shooting Up, Despite Claimed Cuts

Published November 27, 2010

The European Union appears to be on track to meet its greenhouse gas emissions targets under the Kyoto Protocol, but a new study finds it is doing so largely by outsourcing production and jobs to rapidly industrializing nations such as China, where greenhouse gas intensity is more severe.

Europe Reports Falling Emissions
The EU reports emissions levels produced by its 27 member countries have fallen more than 17 percent since 1990. The EU has pledged to reduce its emissions by 20 percent from 1990 levels by 2020.  The 15 EU members that signed the Kyoto protocol—comprising the large, industrial democracies emitting the most greenhouse gas emissions—have reduced their emissions by 6 percent, putting them within range of their 8 percent reduction target.

Despite not committing to the Kyoto Protocol, U.S. emissions have declined by 9 percent since the year 2000, after rising throughout the 1990s.

Emissions Merely Outsourced
According to a new report by the UK public policy organization the Policy Exchange, however, the EU is meeting its emissions reductions goals in only the narrowest of terms. The EU has pushed industrial production and jobs to China, where emissions are rising rapidly and coal powers 70 percent of the nation’s electricity. EU consumers then purchase those same goods and services, which are now being produced while emitting more greenhouse gas than was the case when they were produced in the EU.

“Britain and the EU are only on course to meet international carbon targets because emissions have been ‘off-shored’ to countries like China,” Policy Exchange reported in a press statement accompanying its report.

“Total carbon consumption—including, for example, the carbon produced during the manufacture of steel exported from China to Europe—shot up by 47%” between 1990 and 2006, Policy Exchange reported.

“The Kyoto carbon production figures ignore the way that a lot of industry has moved to China, which has a more carbon intensive economy. And our increasing consumption has been satisfied by importing its products,” Policy Exchange Research Fellow Andrew Brinkley explained.

Alyssa Carducci ([email protected]) writes from Tampa, Florida.

Internet Info:

“Carbon Omissions: Consumption-based accounting for international carbon emissions,” The Policy Exchange: .