Time again to consider consumption emissions

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I was pleased to see an article published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that highlights the old story of consumption emissions. It is good to see formal scientific studies published on this issue for time to time, as I think this important debate often gets swept under the carpet.

Consumption emissions are the total GHG emissions consumed in a particular country, including embedded emissions in imported goods.

At EEF we know from experience that government isn't too keen to discuss whether or not the UK should be calculating its emissions on this basis, or stick to the historical way of just counting emissions that take place directly in the UK. We published a report last summer which highlighted that whilst net emissions in the UK have fallen since 1990, by taking account of imported goods, this shows that UK emissions continue to rise. Hence why you can see why government isn't too keen to consider changing the way it counts carbon emissions.

Although it doesn't paint a wonderful picture, surely only by including these additional emissions can government really get a grip on how the UK can play its part in tackling global climate change. Without this we are just off shoring the problem, some might say, arranging the deckchairs on the Titanic. Worst still, a policy of just counting net emissions, can put UK manufacturing at a disadvantage against its global competitors, by imposing costly climate change policy here, whilst those overseas competitors increase their share of the market.

The UK looks good because net emissions have fallen, but globally all that has happened is the emissions have gone elsewhere and the problem of climate change has not been tackled at all. It doesn't take a genius to work out that this is not the answer to solving this global issue.

Author

Director of UK Steel

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