Tuesday, 26 February 2008
A current hot issue in the climate change debate is the assertion that Europeans along with the other rich countries of the world are 'exporting' greenhouse emissions, by 'outsourcing' dirty industries to other countries. A recent UK report found that while the UK's greenhouse gas inventory shows significant progress in reducing climate change gases, the greenhouse gas emissions activated by the UK's consumption of goods has actually been rising - but the emissions are being released in Russia, China and other emerging economies.
The Topic Centre will present some interesting findings in this area which have emerged from our environmental accounting work at the 2nd SCORE! conference in Brussels on 10-11 March. The study compared the environmental pressures activated by national production global pressures activated by national consumption for 8 EU countries. It found that 3 of these countries are actually importing air emissions pressures by specialising in pressure-intensive industries for export.
We found that specialisation in pressure-intensive industries can give global benefits but using traditional means of pressure monitoring, such countries would come out badly in a comparison with their neighbours. However, much more progress is needed in harmonising and raising pollution taxes if we are to see environmentally beneficial distribution of production becoming the rule in Europe.
We go on to argue that a consumption perspective could provide a better measure of sustainability on the global scale. This approach includes pressures arising in other countries to produce imported goods, but excludes those taking place at home to produce exported goods. The environmentally extended input/output analysis method presented by the Topic Centre presents the first means for carrying out such consumption based monitoring.