From The Guardian
Government's chief environmental scientist says emissions have actually risen, rather than fallen, because of carbon in imported goods
The UK's greenhouse gas emissions have risen in the past two decades rather than declined, because of the carbon "embedded" in imported goods, the government's chief environment scientist has said. Speaking in a documentary to be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 next week, Professor Bob Watson said there was a need to be more open about the rises in emissions generated by-products made in places such as China but destined for the UK market.
Under the current system of counting emissions, greenhouse gases created during the manufacture of goods are counted in the country where they are made, not used. As a result, the true extent of the emissions caused by the UK is masked as many goods consumed here, from electrical products to clothes, are manufactured abroad and imported to this country. Prof Watson said: "At face value UK emissions look like they have decreased 15% or 16% since 1990. "But if you take in carbon embedded in our imports, our emissions have gone up about 12%. We've got to be more open about this."
A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) said: "Our position is that greenhouse gas emissions in the UK have been cut by 22% since 1990. "While some emission reductions have resulted from the trend for manufacturing to move overseas, international rules state that emissions from manufacturing are counted by the country of production. "Changing that would be very difficult. We don't have jurisdiction over emissions embedded in imports, they're difficult to calculate accurately and not easily verified."
He added the government believed the best way of getting an accurate account of global emissions was by reaching a global climate deal, building on last year's Copenhagen accord which he said included commitments by major manufacturers such as China. The accord, in which countries put forward their pledges for national action on emissions, was the only agreement to come out of last year's UN climate talks - which were widely regarded as a failure.