Azara Blog: UK carbon emissions have gone up, not down

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Date published: 2010/09/04

The BBC says:

The UK government's chief environment scientist has called for more openness in admitting Britain's apparent cuts in greenhouse gases are an illusion.

Robert Watson says that if emissions "embedded" in imported goods are counted, UK emissions are up, not down.

He says the same syndrome is true for other rich nations which offshored manufacturing industry.

That means developing countries - particularly China - are blamed for goods they buy for export to the West.

He 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."

There is nothing new in this and it is all trivially obvious, but apparently it does need stating now and again. The fundamental problem is that emissions are counted at the point of production and not the point of consumption. What we need is a globally uniform carbon tax at the point of production since this will automatically mean that consumers will be held responsible for the emissions.

And although the BBC does not mention it, Watson is basically admitting that Kyoto (and Copenhagen, etc.) is a fundamentally flawed approach to reducing carbon emissions.

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