Carbon Emissions in UK 49% Higher Than Acknowledged: New Report Claims
Two new reports, yet to be published but reported on by the BBC, show that contrary to previously published figures carbon emissions in the UK have not only not fallen since the early 1990s, they have actually increased dramatically.
One report by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) says that emissions have risen by 18% between 1992 and 2004, while a report by the Stockholm Environment Institute says that greenhouse gas emissions are in fact 49% higher than currently reported.Aviation, Shipping, Globalized Production Not Included PreviouslyThe cause of the discrepancy? The emissions sources which are included in the calculation: Currently emissions from aviation, shipping and imported consumer goods are not attributed to the country of consumption, under Kyoto protocol accounting.
So, if you move manufacturing of goods overseas to say, China, the greenhouse gas emissions get transferred to that nation and you can look like you’ve made economic changes that are environmentally positive. In fact however, global emissions have not declined at all, just where they get recorded and who gets painted as the climate change bad guy gets shifted elsewhere.
Stockholm Environment Institute Calculates Shipping EmissionsSEI says calculating emission from shipping—despite long multi-country supply chains—is easier than might be suspected. They say there's a 5% error potential in their calculations.
According to SEI, without incorporation shipping into greenhouse gas emissions, UK emissions in 2004 were 657 million tonnes: Including imports and exports into that calculation increases overall emissions to 979 million tonnes.
Furthermore, between 1992-2004 emissions not including shipping showed a decreased 13%. However, in the same time period emissions including consumer-based GHG emissions increased 13%.
Global Causes and Effects of Climate Change, We’re All to Blame ...I think what this discrepancy shows, more importantly than any politically juggling of the numbers by government, is that assessing climate change needs to be done on a global level. Overall carbon emissions are too high and need to be addressed by all nations jointly.
It’s perhaps the ultimate tragedy of the commons example: Climate change may be caused more by the actions of some nations than others, but the suffering will fall most heavily on people least able to do anything about it.
The developed world needs to stop basing decisions on China, India and other developing nations reducing their carbon emissions first, as well as acting virtuously that their emissions are dropping simply because manufacturing has been moved overseas. We need to collectively acknowledge our globally codependent behavior in causing climate change, as well as over-consumption of natural resources.
... But Developed World Needs to Acknowledge It’s Greater Per Capita ImpactWe also need to acknowledge that the emissions of one person in the developed world, based simply on our levels of natural resource consumption and how our societies are structured from an energy-use standpoint, is far greater than a person living in a developing country. By one estimate, a baby born in Britain will, over the course of their lifetime, will create 160 times more greenhouse gas emissions than a baby born in Ethiopia.
While we’re at it, why not get rid of the developed country v. developing country rhetoric? It implies that how we consume resources in the US, the UK, the EU, Australia, Japan is something to strive for, when in fact it’s something entirely ecological unsustainable if applied to the planet as a whole.
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