Trailing Carbon Footprints Across Borders 減碳大進展？碳足跡外包到海外
Over the past decade, both the United States and Europe have made major strides in reducing their greenhouse gas emissions at home. That trend is often held up as a sign of progress in the fight against climate change.
But those efforts look a lot less impressive once you take trade into account. Many wealthy countries have effectively “outsourced” a big chunk of their carbon pollution overseas, by importing more steel, cement and other goods from factories in China and other places, rather than producing it domestically.
Britain, for instance, slashed emissions within its own borders by one-third between 1990 and 2015. But it has done so as energy-intensive industries have migrated abroad. If you included all the global emissions produced in the course of making things like the imported steel used in London’s skyscrapers and cars, then Britain’s total carbon footprint has actually increased slightly over that time.
“It’s a huge problem,” said Ali Hasanbeigi, a research scientist and chief executive of Global Efficiency Intelligence, an energy and environmental consulting firm. “If a country is meeting its climate goals by outsourcing emissions elsewhere, then we’re not making as much progress as we thought.”
Hasanbeigi is an author of a new report on the global carbon trade, which estimates that 25 percent of the world’s total emissions are being outsourced in this manner. The report, written with the consulting firm KGM & Associates and ClimateWorks, calls this a “carbon loophole,” since countries rarely scrutinize the carbon footprint of the goods they import.
哈禮傑是一份全球碳交易新報告的作者之一，報告估計，世界碳排放總量的25％以這種方式外包。這份與顧問公司KGM ＆ Associates和非政府組織「氣候工作基金會」合著的報告，把這一點稱為「碳漏洞」，因為各國很少仔細檢視進口商品的碳足跡。
That may be changing. Last fall, California’s lawmakers took an early stab at confronting the issue by setting new low-carbon standards on the steel the state buys for its infrastructure projects. But dealing with imported emissions remains a thorny problem.
Some environmentalists see it as the next frontier of climate policy.
The new report, which analyzes global trade from 15,000 different sectors — from toys and office equipment to glass and aluminum — builds on previous academic research to provide one of the most detailed pictures yet of the global carbon trade.
Not surprisingly, China, which has become the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide, remains the world’s factory. About 13 percent of China’s emissions in 2015 came from making stuff for other countries. In India, another fast-growing emitter, the figure is 20 percent.
The United States, for its part, remains the world’s leading importer of what the researchers call “embodied carbon.”